Why still read Lukács? The place of “philosophical” questions in Marxism

Chris Cutrone

Platypus Review 63 | February 2014

 

The following is based on a presentation given on January 11, 2014 in Chicago. Video recording available online at: <http://youtube.com/watch?v=FyAx32lzC0U>; audio recording at: <http://archive.org/details/cutrone_lukacsteachin011114_201401>.

Georg Lukács in 1913

Georg Lukács in 1913

The role of “critical theory”

Why read Georg Lukács today?[1] Especially when his most famous work, History and Class Consciousness, is so clearly an expression of its specific historical moment, the aborted world revolution of 1917–19 in which he participated, attempting to follow Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. Are there “philosophical” lessons to be learned or principles to be gleaned from Lukács’s work, or is there, rather, the danger, as the Communist Party of Great Britain’s Mike Macnair has put it, of “theoretical overkill,” stymieing of political possibilities, closing up the struggle for socialism in tiny authoritarian and politically sterile sects founded on “theoretical agreement?”

Mike Macnair’s article “Lukács: The philosophy trap”[2] argues about the issue of the relation between theory and practice in the history of ostensible “Leninism,” taking issue in particular with Lukács’s books History and Class Consciousness (1923) and Lenin (1924), as well as with Karl Korsch’s 1923 essay “Marxism and philosophy.” The issue is what kind of theoretical generalization of consciousness could be derived from the experience of Bolshevism from 1903-21. I agree with Macnair that “philosophical” agreement is not the proper basis for political agreement, but this is not the same as saying that political agreement has no theoretical implications. I’ve discussed this previously in “The philosophy of history”[3] and “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique,”[4] as well as in “Gillian Rose’s ‘Hegelian’ critique of Marxism.”[5] The issue is whether theoretical “positions” have necessary political implications. I think it is a truism to say that there is no sure theoretical basis for effective political practice. But Macnair seems to be saying nothing more than this. In subordinating theory to practice, Macnair loses sight of the potential critical role theory can play in political practice, specifically the task of consciousness of history in the struggle for transforming society in an emancipatory direction.

A certain relation of theory to practice is a matter specific to the modern era, and moreover a problem specific to the era of capitalism, that is, after the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of the modern proletarianized working class and its struggle for socialism, and the crisis of bourgeois social relations and thus of consciousness of society involved in this process.

Critical theory recognizes that the role of theory in the attempt to transform society is not to justify or legitimate or provide normative sanction, not to rationalize what is happening anyway, but rather to critique, to explore conditions of possibility for change. The role of such critical theory is not to describe how things are, but rather how they might become, how things could and should be, but are not, yet.

The political distinction, then, would be not over the description of reality but rather the question of what can and should be changed, and over the direction of that change. Hence, critical theory as such goes beyond the distinction of analysis from description. The issue is not theoretical analysis proper to practical matters, but, beyond that, the issue of transforming practices, with active agency and subjective recognition, as opposed to merely experiencing change as something that has already happened. Capitalism itself is a transformative practice, but that transformation has eluded consciousness, specifically regarding the ways change has happened and political judgments about this. This is the specific role of theory, and hence the place of theoretical issues or “philosophical” concerns in Marxism. Marxist critical theory cannot be compared to other forms of theory, because they are not concerned with changing the world and the politics of our changing practices. Lukács distinguished Marxism from “contemplative” or “reified” consciousness, to which bourgeois society had otherwise succumbed in capitalism 크롬 플러스.

If ostensibly “Marxist” tendencies such as those of the followers of Tony Cliff have botched “theory,” which undoubtedly they have, it is because they have conflated or rendered indistinct the role of critical theory as opposed to the political exigencies of propaganda: for organizations dedicated to propaganda, there must be agreement as to such propaganda; the question is the role of theory in such propaganda activity. If theory is debased to justifying propaganda, then its critical role is evacuated, and indeed it can mask opportunism. But then it ceases to be proper theory, not becoming simply “wrong” or falsified but rather ideological, which is a different matter. This is what happened, according to Lukács and Korsch, in the 2nd/Socialist International, resulting in the “vulgarization” of Marxism, or the confusion of the formulations of political propaganda instead of properly Marxist critical theorization.

“Proletarian socialism”

The “proletariat” was Marx’s neologism for the condition of the post-Industrial Revolution working class, which was analogous metaphorically to the Ancient Roman Republic’s class of “proletarians:” the modern industrial working class was composed of “citizens without property.” In modern, bourgeois society, for instance in the view of John Locke, property in objects is derived from labor, which is the first property. Hence, to be a laborer without property is a self-contradiction in a very specific sense, in that the “expropriation” of labor in capitalism happens as a function of society. A modern “free wage-laborer” is supposed to be a contractual agent with full rights of ownership and disposal over her own labor in its exchange, its buying and selling as property, as a commodity. This is the most elementary form of right in bourgeois society, from which other claims, for instance, individual right to one’s own person and equality before the law, flow. If, according to Marx and Engels, the condition of the modern, post-Industrial Revolution working class or “proletariat” expressed a self-contradiction of bourgeois social relations, this was because this set of social relations, or “bourgeois right,” was in need of transformation: the Industrial Revolution indicated a potential condition beyond bourgeois society. If the workers were expropriated, according to Marx and Engels, this was because of a problem of the value of labor at a greater societal level, not at the level of the individual capitalist firm, not reducible to the contractual relation of the employee to her employer, which remained “fair exchange.” The wage contract was still bourgeois, but the value of the labor exchanged was undermined in the greater (global) society, which was no longer simply bourgeois but rather industrial, that is, “capital”-ist.

The struggle for socialism by the proletariat was the attempt to reappropriate the social property of labor that had been transformed and “expropriated” or “alienated” in the Industrial Revolution. Marx and Engels thought this could be achieved only beyond capitalism, for instance in the value of accumulated past labor in science and technology, what Marx called the “general (social) intellect.” An objective condition was expressed subjectively, but that objective condition of society was itself self-contradictory and so expressed in a self-contradictory form of political subjectivity, “proletarian socialism.” For Marx and Engels, the greatest exemplar of this self-contradictory form of politics aiming to transform society was Chartism in Britain, a movement of the high moment of the Industrial Revolution and its crisis in the 1830s–40s, whose most pointed political expression was, indicatively, universal suffrage. The crisis of the bust period of the “Hungry ’40s” indicated the maturation of bourgeois society, in crisis, as the preceding boom era of the 1830s already had raised expectations of socialism, politically as well as technically and culturally, for instance in the “Utopian Socialism” of Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen et al., as well as in the “Young Hegelian” movement taking place around the world in the 1830s, on whose scene the younger Marx and Engels arrived belatedly, during its crisis and dissolution in the 1840s.

One must distinguish between the relation of theory and practice in the revolutionary bourgeois era and in the post-Industrial Revolution era of the crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism and the proletariat’s struggle for socialism. If in the bourgeois era there was a productive tension, a reflective, speculative or “philosophical” relation, for instance for Kant and Hegel, between theory and practice, in the era of the crisis of bourgeois society there is rather a “negative” or “critical” relation. Hence, the need for Marxism.

As the Frankfurt School Marxist Critical Theorist Theodor Adorno put it, the separation of theory and practice was emancipatory: it expressed the freedom to think at variance with prevailing social practices unknown in the Ancient or Medieval world of traditional civilization. The freedom to relate and articulate theory and practice was a hallmark of the revolutionary emergence of bourgeois society: the combined revolution in society of politics, economics, culture (religion), technique and philosophy—the latter under the rubric “Enlightenment.” By contrast, Romantic socialism of the early 19th century sought to re-unify theory and practice, to make them one thing as they had been under religious cosmology as a total way of life. If, according to Adorno, Marxism, as opposed to Romantic socialism, did not aspire to a “unity of theory and practice” in terms of their identity, but rather of their articulated separation in the transformation of society—transformation of both consciousness and social being—then what Adorno recognized was that, as he put it, the relation of theory and practice is not established once-and-for-all but rather “fluctuates historically.” Marxism, through different phases of its history, itself expressed this fluctuation ajax image files. But the fluctuation was an expression of crisis in Marxism, and ultimately of failure: Adorno called it a “negative dialectic.” It expressed and was tasked by the failure of the revolution. But this failure was not merely the failure of the industrial working class’s struggle for socialism in the early 20th century, but rather that failure was the failure of the emancipation of the bourgeois revolution: this failure consumed history, undermining the past achievements of freedom—as Adorno’s colleague Walter Benjamin put it, “Even the dead are not safe.” Historical Marxism is not a safe legacy but suffers the vicissitudes of the present. If we still are reading Lukács, we need to recognize the danger to which his thought, as part of Marxism’s history, is subject in the present. One way of protecting historical Marxism’s legacy would be through recognizing its inapplicability in the present, distancing it from immediate enlistment in present concerns, which would concede too much already, undermining—liquidating without redeeming—consciousness once already achieved.

The division in Marxism

The title of Lukács’s book History and Class Consciousness should be properly understood directly as indicating that Lukács’s studies, the various essays collected in the book, were about class consciousness as consciousness of history. This goes back to the early Marx and Engels, who understood the emergence of the modern proletariat and its political struggles for socialism after the Industrial Revolution in a “Hegelian” manner, that is, as phenomena or “forms of appearance” of society and history specific to the 19th century. Moreover, Marx and Engels, in their point of departure for “Marxism” as opposed to other varieties of Hegelianism and socialism, looked forward to the dialectical “Aufhebung” of this new modern proletariat: its simultaneous self-fulfillment and completion, self-negation, and self-transcendence in socialism, which would be (also) that of capitalism. In other words, Marx and Engels regarded the proletariat in the struggle for socialism as the central, key phenomenon of capitalism, but the symptomatic expression of its crisis, self-contradiction and need for self-overcoming. This is because capitalism was regarded by Marx and Engels as a form of society, specifically the form of bourgeois society’s crisis and self-contradiction. As Hegelians, Marx and Engels regarded contradiction as the appearance of the necessity and possibility for change. So, the question becomes, what is the meaning of the self-contradiction of bourgeois society, the self-contradiction of bourgeois social relations, expressed by the post-Industrial Revolution working class and its forms of political struggle?

Marx and Engels regarded the politics of proletarian socialism as a form of bourgeois politics in crisis and self-contradiction. This is what it meant for Marx and Engels to say that the objective existence of the proletariat and its subjective struggle for socialism were phenomena of the self-contradiction of bourgeois society and its potential Aufhebung.

The struggle for socialism was self-contradictory. This is what Lukács ruminated on in History and Class Consciousness. But this was not original to Lukács or achieved by Lukács’s reading of Marx and Engels, but rather mediated through the politics of Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg: Lenin and Luxemburg provided access, for Lukács as well as others in the nascent 3rd or Communist International, to the “original Marxism” of Marx and Engels. For Marx and Engels recognized that socialism was inevitably ideological: a self-contradictory form of politics and consciousness. The question was how to advance the contradiction.

As a participant in the project of the Communist International, for Lukács in his books History and Class Consciousness and Lenin (as well as for Karl Korsch in “Marxism and philosophy” and other writings circa 1923), the intervening Marxism of the 2nd or Socialist International had become an obstacle to Marx and Engels’s Marxism and thus to proletarian socialist revolution in the early 20th century, an obstacle that the political struggles of Lenin, Luxemburg and other radicals in the 2nd International sought to overcome. This obstacle of 2nd International Marxism had theoretical as well as practical-political aspects: it was expressed both at the level of theoretical consciousness as well as at the level of political organization.

2nd International Marxism had become an obstacle. According to Luxemburg, in Reform or Revolution? (1900) and in Lenin’s What is to be Done? (1902) (the latter of which was an attempted application of the terms of the Revisionist Dispute in the 2nd International to conditions in the Russian movement), the development of proletarian socialism in the 2nd International had produced its own obstacle, so to the speak, in becoming self-divided between “orthodox Marxists” who retained fidelity to the revolutionary politics of proletarian socialism in terms of the Revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871, and “Revisionists” who thought that political practice and theoretical consciousness of Marxism demanded transformation under the altered historical social conditions that had been achieved by the workers’ struggle for socialism, which proceeded in an “evolutionary” way. Eduard Bernstein gave the clearest expression of this “Revisionist” view, which was influenced by the apparent success of British Fabianism that led to the contemporary formation of the Labour Party, and found its greatest political support among the working class’s trade union leaders in the 2nd International, especially in Germany Download outlook 365. In Bernstein’s view, capitalism was evolving into socialism through the political gains of the workers.

Marxism of the Third International

Lenin, Luxemburg, and Lukács and Korsch among others following them, thought that the self-contradictory nature and character—origin and expression—of proletarian socialism meant that the latter’s development proceeded in a self-contradictory way, which meant that the movement of historical “progress” was self-contradictory. Luxemburg summarized this view in Reform or Revolution?, where she pointed out that the growth in organization and consciousness of the proletariat was itself part of—a new phenomenon of—the self-contradiction of capitalism, and so expressed itself in its own self-contradictory way. This was how Luxemburg grasped the Revisionist Dispute in the Marxism of the 2nd International itself. This self-contradiction was theoretical as well as practical: for Luxemburg and for Lenin the “theoretical struggle” was an expression of practical self-contradiction. Leon Trotsky expressed this “orthodox Marxist” view shared by Lenin and Luxemburg in his 1906 pamphlet Results and Prospects, on the 1905 Revolution in Russia, by pointing out that the various “pre-requisites of socialism” were self-contradictory, that they “retarded” rather than promoted each other. This view was due to the understanding that proletarian socialism was bound up in the crisis of capitalism which was disintegrative: the struggle for socialism was caught up in the disintegration of bourgeois society in capitalism. For Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky, contra Bernstein, the crisis of capitalism was deepening.

One of the clearest expressions of this disintegrative process of self-contradiction in Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky’s time was the relation of capitalism as a global system to the political divisions between national states in the era of “monopoly capital” and “imperialism” that led to the World War, but was already apprehended in the Revisionist Dispute at the turn of the 20th century as expressing the need for socialism—the need for proletarian political revolution. Lenin and Luxemburg’s academic doctoral dissertations of the 1890s, on the development of capitalism in Russia and Poland, respectively, addressed this phenomenon of “combined and uneven” development in the epoch of capitalist crisis, disintegration and “decay,” as expressing the need for world revolution. Moreover, Lenin in What is to be Done? expressed the perspective that the Revisionist Dispute in Marxism was itself an expression of the crisis of capitalism manifesting within the socialist workers’ movement, a prelude to revolution.

While it is conventional to oppose Luxemburg and Lenin’s “revolutionary socialism” to Bernstein et al.’s “evolutionism,” and hence to oppose Luxemburg and Lenin’s “dialectical” Marxism to the Revisionist “mechanical” one, what is lost in this view is the role of historical dynamics of consciousness in Lenin and Luxemburg’s (and Trotsky’s) view. This is the phenomenon of historical “regression” as opposed to “progress,” which the “evolutionary socialism” of Bernstein et al. assumed and later Stalinism also assumed. The most important distinction of Luxemburg and Lenin’s (as well as Trotsky’s) “orthodox” perspective—in Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) view, what made their Marxism “dialectical” and “Hegelian”—was its recognition of historical “regression:” its recognition of bourgeois society as disintegrative and self-destructive in its crisis of capitalism. But this process of disintegration was recognized as affecting the proletariat and its politics as well. Benjamin and Adorno’s theory of regression began here.

Historical regression

The question is how to properly recognize, in political practice as well as theory, the ways in which the struggle for proletarian socialism—socialism achieved by way of the political action of wage-laborers in the post-Industrial Revolution era as such—is caught up and participates in the process of capitalist disintegration: the expression of proletarian socialism as a phenomenon of history, specifically as a phenomenon of crisis and regression.

This history has multiple registers: there is the principal register of the post-Industrial Revolution crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism, its crisis and departure from preceding bourgeois social relations (those of the prior, pre-industrial eras of “cooperation” and “manufacture” of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, in Marx’s terms); but there is also the register of the dynamics and periods within capitalism itself. Capitalism was for Marx and Engels already the regression of bourgeois society. This is where Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) perspective, derived from Luxemburg and Lenin’s (and Trotsky’s) views from 1900-19, what they considered an era of “revolution,” might become problematic for us, today: the history of the post-1923 world has not been, as 1848–1914 was in the 2nd International “orthodox” or “radical” Marxist (as opposed to Revisionist) view, a process of increasing crisis and development of revolutionary political necessities, but rather a process of continued social disintegration of capitalism without, however, this being expressed in and through the struggle for proletarian socialism.

It is important to note that Lukács (and Korsch) abandoned rather rapidly their 1923 perspectives, adjusting to developing circumstances of a non-revolutionary era.

Here is where the problematic relation of Tony Cliff’s political project to Lukács (and Korsch), and hence to Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, may be located: in Cliff’s perspective on his (post-1945) time being a “non-revolutionary” one, demanding a project of “propaganda” that is related to but differs significantly from the moment of Lenin et al Download The Great Escape Season 2 Episode 1. For the Cliffites and their organizations, “political practice” is one of propaganda in a non-revolutionary period, in which political action is less of a directly practical but rather of an exemplary-propagandistic significance. This has been muddled by their strategy of “movement-building.”

This was not the case for Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky, whose political practice was directly about the struggle for power, and in whose practical project Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) “theoretical” work sought to participate, offering attempts at clarification of self-understanding to revolutionaries “on the march.” Cliff and his followers, at least at their most self-conscious, have known that they were doing something essentially different from Lenin et al.: they were not organizing a revolutionary political party seeking a bid for power as part of an upsurge of working class struggle in the context of a global movement (the 2nd International), as had been the case for Lenin at the time of What is to be Done? (1902), or Luxemburg’s Mass Strike pamphlet and Trotsky in the Russian Revolution of 1905. Yet the Cliffites have used the ideas of Lenin and Luxemburg and their followers, such as Lukács and Korsch as well as Trotsky, to justify their practices. This presents certain problems. Yes, Lenin et al. have become ideological in the hands of the Cliffites, among others—“Leninism” for the Stalinists most prominently. So the question turns to the status of Lenin’s ideas in themselves and in their own moment.[6]

Mike Macnair points out that Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) works circa 1923 emphasized attack and so sought to provide a “theory of the offensive,” as opposed to Lenin’s arguments about the necessities of “retreat” in 1920 (as against and in critique of “Left-Wing” Communism) and what Macnair has elsewhere described as the need for “Kautskyan patience” in politically building for proletarian socialism (as in the era of the 2nd International 1889–1914), and so this limits the perspective of Lukács (and Korsch), after Lenin and Luxemburg (and Trotsky), to a period of “civil war” (circa 1905, and 1914/17–19/20/21). In this, Macnair is concerned, rightly, with “theory” becoming a blinder to proper political practice: “theoretical overkill” is a matter of over-“philosophizing” politics. But there is a difference between active campaigning in the struggle for power, whether in attack or (temporary) retreat, and propagandizing, to which Marxism (at best) has been relegated ever since the early 20th century.

However, in raising, by contrast, the need for a conscious openness to “empirical reality” of political experience, Macnair succumbs to a linear-progressive view of history as well as of political practice, turning this into a matter of “lessons learned:” it becomes a quantitative rather than qualitative matter. Moreover, it becomes a matter of theory in a conventional rather than the Marxist “critical” sense, in which the description of reality and its analysis approach more and more adequate approximations.

Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, and so Lukács (and Korsch), as “orthodox” as opposed to “revisionist” Marxists, conceived of the development of consciousness, both theoretically and practically-organizationally, rather differently, in that a necessary “transformation of Marxism,” which took place in the “peculiar guise” of a “return to the original Marxism of Marx and Engels” (Korsch), could be an asset in the present. But that “present” was the “crisis of Marxism” 1914–19, which is not, today, our moment—as even Cliff and his followers, with their notion of “propaganda” in a non-revolutionary era, have recognized (as did Lukács and Korsch, in subsequently abandoning their circa-1923 perspectives).

So what is the status of such ideas in a non-revolutionary era?

Korsch and the problem of “philosophy”

Karl Korsch, Lukács’s contemporary in the 3rd International, whose work Macnair deliberately and explicitly puts aside, offered a pithy formulation in his 1923 essay on “Marxism and philosophy,” that, “a problem which supersedes present relations may have been formulated in an anterior epoch.” That is, we may live under the shadow of a problem that goes beyond us.

This is a non-linear, non-progressive and recursive view of history, which Korsch gleaned from Luxemburg and Lenin’s contributions to the Revisionist Dispute in the 2nd International (e.g., Reform or Revolution?, What is to be Done?, etc.; and Trotsky’s Results and Prospects). It has its origins in Marx and Engels’s view of capitalism as a regressive, disintegrative process. This view has two registers: the self-contradiction and crisis of bourgeois social relations in the transition to capital-ism after the Industrial Revolution; and the disintegrative and self-destructive process of the reproduction of capitalism itself, which takes place within and as a function of the reproduction of bourgeois social relations, through successive crises.

Marx and Engels recognized that the crisis of capitalism was motivated by the reproduction of bourgeois social relations under conditions of the disintegration of the value of labor in the Industrial Revolution, producing the need for socialism. The industrial-era working class’s struggle for the social value of its labor was at once regressive, as if bourgeois social relations of the value of labor had not been undermined by the Industrial Revolution, and pointed beyond capitalism, in that the realization of the demands for the proper social value of labor would actually mean overcoming labor as value in society, transforming work from “life’s prime need” to “life’s prime want:” work would be done not out of the social compulsion to labor in the valorization process of capital, but rather out of intrinsic desire and interest; and society would provide for “each according to his need” from “each according to his ability.” As Adorno, a later follower of Lukács and Korsch’s works circa 1923 that had converted him to Marxism, put it, getting beyond capitalism would mean overcoming the “law of labor.”[7]

Korsch’s argument in his 1923 essay “Marxism and philosophy” was focused on a very specific problem, the status of philosophy in Marxism, in the direct sense of Marx and Engels being followers of Hegel, and Hegel representing a certain “end” to philosophy, in which the world became philosophical and philosophy became worldly 산울림 청춘. Hegel announced that with his work, philosophy was “completed,” as a function of recognizing how society had become “philosophical,” or mediated through conceptual theory in ways previously not the case. Marx and Engels accepted Hegel’s conclusion, in which case the issue was to further the revolution of bourgeois society—the “philosophical” world that demanded worldly “philosophy.” The disputes among the Hegelians in the 1830s and ’40s were concerned, properly, with precisely the politics of the bourgeois world and its direction for change. The problem, according to Korsch, was that, after the failure of the revolutions of 1848, there was a recrudescence of “philosophy,” and that this was something other than what had been practiced either traditionally by the Ancients or in modernity by revolutionary bourgeois thinkers—thinkers of the revolution of the bourgeois era—such as Kant and Hegel (also Rousseau, John Locke, Adam Smith, et al.).

What constitutes “philosophical” questions? Traditionally, philosophy was concerned with three kinds of questions: ontology, what we are; epistemology, how we know; and the good life, how we ought to live. Starting with Kant, such traditional philosophical “first questions” of prima philosophia or “first philosophy” were no longer asked, or, if they were asked, they were strictly subordinated or rendered secondary to the question of the relation of theory and practice, or, how we account to ourselves what we are doing. Marxism is not a philosophy in the traditional sense, any more than Kant and Hegel’s philosophy was traditional. Lenin, in the Conclusion of Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908), summed up that the late 19th century Neo-Kantians “started with Kant and, leaving him, proceeded not [forwards] towards [Marxist] materialism, but in the opposite direction, [backwards] towards Hume and Berkeley.” It is not, along the lines of a traditional materialist ontology, that firstly we are material beings; epistemologically, who know the world empirically through our bodily senses; and ethically we must serve the needs of our true, material bodily nature. No. For Kant and his followers, including Hegel and Marx, rather, we consciously reflect upon an on-going process from within its movement: we don’t step back from what we are doing and try to establish a “first” basis for asking our questions; those questions arise, rather, from within our on-going practices and their transformations. Empirical facts cannot be considered primary if they are to be changed. Theory may go beyond the facts by influencing their transformation in practice.

Society is the source of our practices and their transformations, and hence of our theoretical consciousness of them. Society, according to Rousseau, is the source of our ability to act contrary to our “first nature,” to behave in unnatural ways. This is our freedom. And for Kant and his followers, our highest moral duty in the era of the process of “Enlightenment” was to serve the cause of freedom. This meant serving the revolution of bourgeois emancipation from traditional civilization, changing society. However Kant considered the full achievement of bourgeois society to be the mere “mid-point” of the development of freedom.[8] Hegel and Marxism inherited and assumed this projective perspective on the transitional character of bourgeois society.

Marx and Engels can be considered to have initiated a “Second Enlightenment” in the 19th century the degree to which capitalism presented new problems unknown in the pre-Industrial Revolution bourgeois era, because they had not yet arisen in practice. By contrast, philosophers who continued to ask such traditional questions of ontology, epistemology and ethics were actually addressing the problem of the relation of theory and practice in the capitalist era, whether they recognized this or not. Assuming the traditional basis for philosophical questions in the era of capitalism obscured the real issue and rendered “philosophy” ideological. This is why “philosophy” needed to be abolished. The question was, how?

The recrudescence of philosophy in the late 19th century was, according to Korsch, a symptom of the failure of socialism in 1848, but as such expressed a genuine need: the necessity of relating theory and practice as a problem of consciousness under conditions of capitalism. In this respect, Marxism was the sustaining of the Kantian-Hegelian “critical philosophy” but under changed conditions from the bourgeois-revolutionary era to that of capitalism 빵빵 mp3 다운로드. Korsch analogized this to the recrudescence of the state in post-1848 Bonapartism, which contradicted the bourgeois-revolutionary, liberal prognosis of the subordination of the state to civil society and thus the state’s “withering away,” its functions absorbed into free social relations. This meant recognizing the need to overcome recrudescent philosophy as analogous to the need to overcome the capitalist state, the transformation of its necessity through socialism. “Bonapartism in philosophy” thus expressed a new, late found need in capitalism, to free society. We look to “philosophers” to do our thinking for us the same way we look to authoritarian leaders politically.

As Korsch put it, the only way to “abolish” philosophy would be to “realize” it: socialism would be the attainment of the “philosophical world” promised by bourgeois emancipation but betrayed by capitalism, which renders society—our social practices—opaque. It would be premature to say that under capitalism everyone is already a philosopher. Indeed, the point is that none are. But this is because of the alienation and reification of bourgeois social relations in capitalism, which renders the Kantian-Hegelian “worldly philosophy” of the critical relation of theory and practice an aspiration rather than an actuality. Nonetheless, Marxist critical theory accepted the task of such modern critical philosophy, specifically regarding the ideological problem of theory and practice in the struggle for socialism. This is what it meant to say, as was formulated in the 2nd International, that the workers’ movement for socialism was the inheritor of German Idealism: it was the inheritor of the revolutionary process of bourgeois emancipation, which the bourgeoisie, compromised by capitalism, had abandoned. The task remained.

Transformation of Marxism

Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, “orthodox Marxists” of the 2nd International who radicalized their perspectives in the crisis of the 2nd International and of Marxism in world war and revolution 1914–19, and were followed by Lukács and Korsch, were subjects of a historical moment in which the crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism was expressed by social and political crisis and the movement for “proletarian socialist” revolution, beginning, after the Industrial Revolution, in the 1830s–40s, the attempt to revolutionize society centrally by the wage-laborers as such, a movement dominated from 1889–1914 by the practical politics as well as theoretical consciousness of Marxism.

Why would Lukács and Korsch in the 20th century return to the origins of Marxism in Hegelianism, in what Korsch called the consciousness of the “revolt of the Third Estate,” a process of the 17th and 18th centuries (that had already begun earlier)? Precisely because Lukács and Korsch sought to address Marxism’s relation to the revolt of the Third Estate’s bourgeois glorification of the social relations of labor, and the relation of this to the democratic revolution (see for example the Abbé Sieyès’s revolutionary 1789 pamphlet What is the Third Estate?): how Marxism recognized that this relation between labor and democracy continued in 19th century socialism, however problematically. In Lukács and Korsch’s view, proletarian socialism sustained just this bourgeois revolution, albeit under the changed conditions of the Industrial Revolution and its capitalist aftermath. Mike Macnair acknowledges this in his focus on the English Enlightenment “materialist empiricism” of John Locke in the 17th and 18th centuries and on the British Chartism of the early 19th century, their intrinsic continuity in the democratic revolution, and Marx and Engels’s continuity with both. But then Macnair takes Kant and Hegel—and thus Lukács and Korsch following them—to be counter-Enlightenment and anti-democratic thinkers accommodating autocratic political authority, drawing this from Hume’s alleged turn away from the radicalism of Locke back to Hobbes’s political conservatism, and Kant and Hegel’s alleged affirmation of the Prussian state. But this account leaves out the crucially important influence on Kant and German Idealism more generally by Rousseau, of whom Hegel remarked that “freedom dawned on the world” in his works, and who critiqued and departed from Hobbes’s naturalistic society of “war of all against all” and built rather upon Locke’s contrary view of society and politics, sustaining and promoting the revolution in bourgeois society as “more than the sum of its parts,” revolutionary in its social relations per se, seminal for the American and French Revolutions of the later 18th century. Capital, emerging in the 19th century, in the Marxist view, as the continued social compulsion to wage-labor after its crisis of value in the Industrial Revolution, both is and is not the Rousseauian “general will” of capitalist society: it is a self-contradictory “mode of production” and set of social relations, expressed through self-contradictory consciousness, in theory and practice, of its social and political subjects, first and foremost the consciousness of the proletariat. It is self-contradictory both objectively and subjectively, both in theory and in practice.

Marx and Engels’s point was to encourage and advance the proletariat’s critical recognition of the self-contradictory character of its struggle for socialism, in what Marx called the “logical extreme” of the role of the proletariat in the democratic revolution of the 19th century, which could not, according to Marx, take its “poetry” from the 17th and 18th centuries, as clearly expressed in the failure of the revolutions of 1848, Marx’s famous formulation of the need for “revolution in permanence.”[9] What this means is that the democratic revolutionary aspirations of the wage-laborers for the “social republic” was the self-contradictory demand for the realization of the social value of labor after this had already taken the form of accumulated capital, what Marx called the “general intellect.” It is not the social value of labor, but rather that of this “general intellect” which must be reappropriated, and by the wage-laborers themselves, in their discontents as subjects of democracy. The ongoing democratic revolution renders this both possible and superfluous in that it renders the state both the agency and obstacle to this reappropriation, in post-1848 Bonapartism, which promises everything to everyone—to solve the “social question” of capitalism—but provides nothing, a diversion of the democratic revolution under conditions of self-contradictory bourgeois social relations: the state promises employment but gives unemployment benefits or subsidizes the lost value of wages; as Adorno put it, the workers get a cut of the profits of capital, to prevent revolution 트릴로지.[10] Or, as Adorno’s colleague, the director of the Frankfurt Institute Max Horkheimer put it, the Industrial Revolution and its continued social ramifications made not labor but the workers “superfluous.”[11] This created a very dangerous political situation—clearly expressed by the catastrophic events of the 20th century, mediated by mass “democratic” movements.

Marxism in the 20th century

In the 20th century, under the pressure of mass democracy—itself the result of the class struggle of the workers—the role of the state as self-contradictory and helpless manager of capitalism came to full fruition, but not through the self-conscious activity of the working class’s political struggle for socialism, confronting the need to overcome the role of the state, but more obscurely, with perverse results. Lenin’s point in The State and Revolution (1917) was the need for the revolutionary transformation of society beyond “bourgeois right” that the state symptomatically expressed; but, according to Lenin, this could be accomplished only “on the basis of capitalism itself” (“Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, 1920). If the working class among others in bourgeois society has succumbed to what Lukács called the “reification” of bourgeois social relations, then this has been completely naturalized and can no longer be called out and recognized as such. For Lukács, “reification” referred to the hypostatization and conservatization of the workers’ own politics in protecting their “class interest,” what Lenin called mere “trade union consciousness” (including that of nationalist competition) in capitalism, rather than rising to the need to overcome this in practice, recognizing how the workers’ political struggles might point beyond and transcend themselves. This included democracy, which could occult the social process of capitalism as much as reveal it.

One phenomenon of such reification in the 20th century was what Adorno called the “veil of technology,” which included the appearance of capital as a thing (as in capital goods, or techniques of organizing production), rather than as Marxism recognized it, a social relation, however self-contradictory.

Film still of Hannah Arendt (2013) directed by Margarethe von Trotta.

Film still of Hannah Arendt (2013) directed by Margarethe von Trotta.

The anti-Marxist, liberal (yet still quite conservative) Heideggerian political theorist Hannah Arendt (and antagonist of Adorno and other Marxist “Critical Theorists” of the Frankfurt School, who was however married to a former Communist follower of Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacus League of 1919), expressed well how the working class in the 20th century developed after the failure of Marxism:

The modern age has carried with it a theoretical glorification of labor and has resulted in an actual transformation of the whole of society into a laboring society. The fulfilment of the wish, therefore, like the fulfilment of wishes in fairy tales, comes at a moment when it can only be self-defeating. It is a society of laborers which is about to be liberated from the fetters of labor [by technical automation], and this society does no longer know of those other higher and more meaningful activities for the sake of which this freedom would deserve to be won. Within this society, which is egalitarian because this is labor’s way of making men live together, there is no class left, no aristocracy of either a political or spiritual nature from which a restoration of the other capacities of man could start anew. Even presidents, kings, and prime ministers think of their offices in terms of a job necessary for the life of society, and among the intellectuals, only solitary individuals are left who consider what they are doing in terms of work and not in terms of making a living. What we are confronted with is the prospect of a society of laborers without labor, that is, without the only activity left to them. Surely, nothing could be worse.[12]

This was written contemporaneously with the Keynesian economist Joan Robinson’s statement that, “The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.”[13] (Robinson, who once accused a Marxist that, “I have Marx in my bones and you have him in your mouth.”[14]) Compare this to what Heidegger offered in Nazi-era lectures on “Overcoming metaphysics,” that, “The still hidden truth of Being is withheld from metaphysical humanity. The laboring animal is left to the giddy whirl of its products so that it may tear itself to pieces and annihilate itself in empty nothingness;”[15] and, in “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” (1964), the place of Marx in this process: “With the reversal of metaphysics which was already accomplished by Karl Marx, the most extreme possibility of philosophy is attained.”[16] But this was Heidegger blaming Marxism and the “metaphysics of labor” championed politically by the bourgeois revolt of the Third Estate and inherited by the workers’ movement for socialism, without recognizing as Marx did the self-contradictory character in capitalism; Heidegger, for whom “only a god can still save us” (meaning, only the discovery of a new value to serve),[17] and Arendt following him, demonized technologized society as a dead-end of “Western metaphysics” allegedly going back to the Socratic turn of ‘science” followed by Plato and Aristotle in Classical Antiquity, rather than recognizing it as a symptom of the need to transform society, capitalism and its need for socialism as a transitional condition of history emerging specifically in the 19th century.

This was the resulting flat “contradiction” that replaced the prior “dialectical” contradiction of “proletarian socialism” recognized by Marxism, whose theoretical recovery, in the context of the crisis of Marxism in the movement from the 2nd to 3rd Internationals, had been attempted by Lukács and Korsch. What Arendt called merely the (objective) “human condition,” the “vita activa” and its perverse nihilistic destiny in modern society, was, once, the (subjective) “dialectical,” self-contradictory “standpoint of the proletariat” in Marxism, as the “class consciousness” of history: the historical need for the proletariat to overcome and abolish itself as a class, including its own standpoint of “consciousness,” its regressive bourgeois demand to reappropriate the value of labor in capitalism, which would both realize and negate the “bourgeois right” of the value of labor in society. Socialism was recognized by Marxism as the raising and advancing of the self-contradiction of capitalism to the “next stage,” motivated by the necessity and possibility for “communism.” What Arendt could only apprehend as a baleful telos, the society of labor overcoming itself, Marxism once recognized as the need for revolution, to advance the contradiction in socialism.

When Marxists such as Adorno or Lukács can only sound to us like Arendt (or Heidegger), this is because we no longer live in the revolution. Adorno:

According to [Marxist] theory, history is the history of class struggles Download Kuroko's 3rd basketball. But the concept of class is bound up with the emergence of the proletariat. . . . If all the oppression that man has ever inflicted upon man culminates in the cold inhumanity of free wage labor, then . . . the archaic silence of pyramids and ruins becomes conscious of itself in materialist thought: it is the echo of factory noise in the landscape of the immutable. . . . This means, however, that dehumanization is also its opposite. In reified human beings reification finds its outer limits. . . . Only when the victims completely assume the features of the ruling civilization will they be capable of wresting them from the dominant power. . . . Even if the dynamic at work was always the same, its end today is not the end.[18]

Lukács:

[As Hegel said,] directly before the emergence of something qualitatively new, the old state of affairs gathers itself up into its original, purely general, essence, into its simple totality, transcending and absorbing back into itself all those marked differences and peculiarities which it evinced when it was still viable. . . . [I]n the age of the dissolution of capitalism, the fetishistic categories collapse and it becomes necessary to have recourse to the “natural form” underlying them. . . . As the antagonism becomes more acute two possibilities open up for the proletariat. It is given the opportunity to substitute its own positive contents for the emptied and bursting husks. But also it is exposed to the danger that for a time at least it might adapt itself ideologically to conform to these, the emptiest and most decadent forms of bourgeois culture.[19]

Why still “philosophy?”

The problem today is that we are not faced, as Lukács and Korsch were, with the self-contradiction of the proletariat’s struggle for socialism in the political problem of the reified forms of the working class substituting for those of bourgeois society in its decadence. We replay the revolt of the Third Estate and its demands for the social value of labor, but we do not have occasion to recognize what Lukács regarded as the emptiness of bourgeois social relations of labor, its value evacuated by technical but not political transcendence. We have lost sight of the problem of “reification” as Lukács meant it.

As Hegel scholar Robert Pippin has concluded, in a formulation that is eminently agreeable to Korsch’s perspective on the continuation of philosophy as a symptom of failed transformation of society, in an essay addressing how, by contrast with the original “Left-Hegelian, Marxist, Frankfurt school tradition,” today, “the problem with contemporary critical theory is that it has become insufficiently critical:” “Perhaps [philosophy] exists to remind us we haven’t gotten anywhere.”[20] The question is the proper role of critical theory and “philosophical” questions in politics. In the absence of Marxism, other thinking is called to address this—for instance, Arendt (or worse: see Carl Schmitt[21]).

Recognizing the potential political abuse of “philosophy” does not mean, however, that we must agree with Heidegger, that, “Philosophy will not be able to bring about a direct change of the present state of the world” (Der Spiegel interview). Especially since Marxism is not only (a history of) a form of politics, but also, as the Hegel and Frankfurt School scholar Gillian Rose put it, a “mode of cognition sui generis.”[22] This is because, as the late 19th century sociologist Emile Durkheim put it, (bourgeois) society is an “object of cognition sui generis.” Furthermore, capitalism is a problem of social transformation sui generis—one with which we still might struggle, at least hopefully! Marxism is hence a mode of politics sui generis—one whose historical memory has become very obscure. This is above all a practical problem, but one which registers also “philosophically” in “theory.”

The problem of what Rousseau called the “reflective” and Kant and Hegel, after Rousseau, called the “speculative” relation of theory and practice in bourgeois society’s crisis in capitalism, recognized once by historical Marxism as the critical self-consciousness of proletarian socialism and its self-contradictions, has not gone away but was only driven underground. The revolution originating in the bourgeois era in the 17th and 18th centuries that gave rise to the modern philosophy of freedom in Rousseauian Enlightenment and German Idealism and that advanced to new problems in the Industrial Revolution and the proletarianization of society, perverting “bourgeois right” into a form of domination rather than emancipation, and expressed through the Bonapartist state’s perversion of democracy, which was recognized by Marxism in the 19th century but failed in the 20th century, may still task us.

This is why we might, still, be reading Lukács. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review 63 (February 2014). Re-published by Philosophers for Change Guilty Dragon.


FOOTNOTES
1. See Marco Torres, “Politics as a Form of Knowledge: A Brief Introduction to Georg Lukács,” Platypus Review 1 (November 2007), available online at: <http://platypus1917.org/2007/11/01/politics-as-a-form-of-knowledge-a-brief-introduction-to-georg-lukacs/>.
2. Weekly Worker 987 (November 21, 2013), available on-line at: <http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/987/luk%C3%A1cs-the-philosophy-trap>.
3. Weekly Worker 869 (June 9, 2011), available on-line at: <http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/869/the-philosophy-of-history>.
4. Weekly Worker 878 (August 11, 2011), available on-line at: <http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/878/defending-marxist-hegelianism-against-a-marxist-critique>.
5. Platypus Review 21 (March 2010), available on-line at: <http://platypus1917.org/2010/03/15/gillian-roses-hegelian-critique-of-marxism/>.
6. See my “The relevance of Lenin today,” Platypus Review 48 (July–August 2012), available on-line at: <http://platypus1917.org/2012/07/01/the-relevance-of-lenin-today/>.
7. Quoted in Detlev Claussen, Adorno: One Last Genius (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 48.
8. “Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view” (1784), available on-line at: <http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/kant/universal-history.htm>.
9. “Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League” (1850), available on-line at: <http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm>.
10. “Late capitalism or industrial society?” AKA “Is Marx obsolete?” (1968).
11. “The authoritarian state” (1942).
12. The Human Condition [Vita Activa] (1958).
13. Economic Philosophy (1962).
14. See Mike Beggs, “Joan Robinson’s ‘Open letter from a Keynesian to a Marxist’” (July 2011), which quotes in full Robinson’s letter from 1953 to Ronald Meek, available on-line at: <http://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/07/joan-robinsons-open-letter-from-a-keynesian-to-a-marxist-2/>.
15. The End of Philosophy, ed. and trans. Joan Stambaugh (University of Chicago Press, 2003), 87.
16. Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 433.
17 오페라 웹 브라우저. 1966 interview in Der Spiegel, published posthumously May 31, 1976.
18. “Reflections on class theory” (1942).
19. “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness (1923).
20. “On Critical Inquiry and critical theory: A short history of non-being,” Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004), 416–417.
21. See Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political (1927/32).
22. Review of the English translation of Adorno’s Negative Dialectics [1973] in The American Political Science Review 70.2 (June 1976), 598–599.

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. ( . . . )

Articles by month

Article dates

December 2020
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Why still read Lukács? (abridged in CPGB Weekly Worker)

The place of “philosophical” questions in Marxism

Chris Cutrone

Why read Georg Lukács today? Especially when his most famous work, History and class consciousness, is so clearly an expression of its specific historical moment: the aborted world revolution of 1917-19, in which he participated, attempting to follow Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. Are there ‘philosophical’ lessons to be learned or principles to be gleaned from Lukács’s work, or is there, rather, the danger, as Mike Macnair has put it, of “theoretical overkill” – the stymieing of political possibilities, closing up the struggle for socialism in tiny authoritarian and politically sterile sects founded on “theoretical agreement”?

Mike Macnair’s article, ‘The philosophy trap’,1 argues about the issue of the relation between theory and practice in the history of ostensible ‘Leninism’, taking issue in particular with Lukács’s books, History and class consciousness (1923) and Lenin (1924), as well as with Karl Korsch’s 1923 essay, ‘Marxism and philosophy’.2 The issue is what kind of theoretical generalisation of consciousness could be derived from the experience of Bolshevism from 1903-21. I agree with Macnair that ‘philosophical’ agreement is not the proper basis for political agreement, but this is not the same as saying that political agreement has no theoretical implications. I have discussed this previously in ‘The philosophy of history’3 and ‘Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique’.4 The issue is whether theoretical ‘positions’ have necessary political implications. I think it is a truism to say that there is no sure theoretical basis for effective political practice. But Macnair seems to be saying nothing more than this. In subordinating theory to practice, Macnair loses sight of the potential critical role theory can play in political practice.

A certain relation of theory to practice is a matter specific to the modern era, and moreover a problem specific to the era of capitalism: that is, after the industrial revolution, the emergence of the modern proletarianised working class and its struggle for socialism, and the crisis of bourgeois social relations and thus of consciousness of society involved in this process.

Critical theory recognises that the role of theory in the attempt to transform society is not to justify or legitimate or provide normative sanction, not to rationalise what is happening anyway, but rather to critique, to explore conditions of possibility for change Download jarvis theme. The role of such critical theory is not to describe how things are, but rather how they might become, how things could and should be, but are not yet.

The political distinction, then, would be not over the description of reality, but rather the question of what can and should be changed, and over the direction of that change. Hence, critical theory as such goes beyond the distinction of analysis from description. The issue is not theoretical analysis proper to practical matters, but, beyond that, the issue of transforming practices, with active agency and subjective recognition, as opposed to merely experiencing change as something that has already happened. Capitalism itself is a transformative practice, but that transformation has eluded consciousness, specifically regarding the ways change has happened and political judgments about this. This is the specific role of theory, and hence the place of theoretical issues or ‘philosophical’ concerns in Marxism. Marxist critical theory cannot be compared to other forms of theory, because they are not concerned with changing the world and the politics of our changing practices. Lukács distinguished Marxism from “contemplative” or “reified” consciousness, to which bourgeois society had otherwise succumbed in capitalism.

‘Proletarian socialism’

The ‘proletariat’ was Marx’s neologism for the condition of the post-industrial revolution working class, which was analogous metaphorically to the ancient Roman republic’s class of ‘proletarians’: the modern industrial working class was composed of “citizens without property”. In modern, bourgeois society – for instance, in the view of John Locke – property in objects is derived from labour, which is the first property. Hence, to be a labourer without property is a self-contradiction in a very specific sense, in that the ‘expropriation’ of labour in capitalism happens as a function of society. A modern ‘free wage-labourer’ is supposed to be a contractual agent with full rights of ownership and disposal over her own labour in its exchange, its buying and selling as property, as a commodity 소방안전교육 동영상. This is the most elementary form of right in bourgeois society, from which other claims – for instance, individual right to one’s own person and equality before the law – flow.

If, according to Marx and Engels, the condition of the modern, post-industrial revolution working class or ‘proletariat’ expressed a self-contradiction of bourgeois social relations, this was because this set of social relations, or “bourgeois right”, was in need of transformation: the industrial revolution indicated a potential condition beyond bourgeois society. If the workers were expropriated, according to Marx and Engels, this was because of a problem of the value of labour at a greater societal level, not at the level of the individual capitalist firm, not reducible to the contractual relation of the employee to her employer, which remained ‘fair exchange’. The wage contract was still bourgeois, but the value of the labour exchanged was undermined in the greater (global) society, which was no longer simply bourgeois, but rather industrial: that is, ‘capital’-ist.

The struggle for socialism by the proletariat was the attempt to reappropriate the social property of labour that had been transformed and ‘expropriated’ or ‘alienated’ in the industrial revolution. Marx and Engels thought this could be achieved only beyond capitalism: for instance, in the value of accumulated past labour in science and technology, what Marx called the ‘general (social) intellect’. An objective condition was expressed subjectively, but that objective condition of society was itself self-contradictory and so expressed in a self-contradictory form of political subjectivity: ‘proletarian socialism’.

For Marx and Engels, the greatest exemplar of this self-contradictory form of politics aiming to transform society was Chartism in Britain, a movement of the high moment of the industrial revolution and its crisis in the 1830s-40s, whose most pointed political expression was, indicatively, universal suffrage. The crisis of the bust period of the ‘hungry 40s’ indicated the maturation of bourgeois society, in crisis, as the preceding boom era of the 1830s already had raised expectations of socialism, politically as well as technically and culturally – for example, in the ‘utopian socialism’ of Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen et al, as well as in the ‘Young Hegelian’ movement taking place around the world in the 1830s, on whose scene the younger Marx and Engels arrived belatedly, during its crisis and dissolution in the 1840s.

One must distinguish between the relation of theory and practice in the revolutionary bourgeois era and in the post-industrial revolution era of the crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism and the proletariat’s struggle for socialism gta5pc free. If in the bourgeois era there was a productive tension, a reflective, speculative or ‘philosophical’ relation: for instance, for Kant and Hegel, between theory and practice, in the era of the crisis of bourgeois society there is rather a ‘negative’ or ‘critical’ relation. Hence, the need for Marxism.

The division in Marxism

The title, History and class consciousness, should be properly understood directly as indicating that Lukács’s studies, the various essays collected in the book, were about class-consciousness as consciousness of history.

This goes back to the early Marx and Engels, who understood the emergence of the modern proletariat and its political struggles for socialism after the industrial revolution in a ‘Hegelian’ manner: that is, as phenomena or ‘forms of appearance’ of society and history specific to the 19th century. Moreover, Marx and Engels, in their point of departure for ‘Marxism’, as opposed to other varieties of Hegelianism and socialism, looked forward to the dialectical ‘Aufhebung’ of this new modern proletariat: its simultaneous self-fulfilment and completion, self-negation and self-transcendence in socialism, which would be (also) that of capitalism. In other words, Marx and Engels regarded the proletariat in the struggle for socialism as the central, key phenomenon of capitalism, but the symptomatic expression of its crisis, self-contradiction and need for self-overcoming. This is because capitalism was regarded as a form of society, specifically the form of bourgeois society’s crisis and self-contradiction. As Hegelians, Marx and Engels regarded contradiction as the appearance of the necessity and possibility for change.

So the question becomes, what is the meaning of the self-contradiction of bourgeois society, the self-contradiction of bourgeois social relations, expressed by the post-industrial revolution working class and its forms of political struggle?

Marx and Engels regarded the politics of proletarian socialism as a form of bourgeois politics in crisis and self-contradiction. This is what it meant when they say that the objective existence of the proletariat and its subjective struggle for socialism were phenomena of the self-contradiction of bourgeois society and its potential Aufhebung.

The struggle for socialism was self-contradictory. This is what Lukács ruminated on in History and class consciousness. However, this was not original to Lukács or achieved by Lukács’s reading of Marx and Engels, but rather mediated through the politics of Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg: Lenin and Luxemburg provided access, for Lukács as well as others in the nascent Third or Communist International, to the ‘original Marxism’ of Marx and Engels. For Marx and Engels recognised that socialism was inevitably ideological: a self-contradictory form of politics and consciousness. The question was how to advance the contradiction Steam Remote.

As a participant in the project of the Communist International, for Lukács in History and class consciousness and Lenin (as well as for Karl Korsch in ‘Marxism and philosophy’ and other writings circa 1923), the intervening Marxism of the Second or Socialist International had become an obstacle to Marx’s and Engels’s Marxism and thus to proletarian socialist revolution in the early 20th century – an obstacle that the political struggles of Lenin, Luxemburg and other radicals in the Second International sought to overcome. This obstacle of Second International Marxism had theoretical as well as practical-political aspects: it was expressed both at the level of theoretical consciousness and at the level of political organisation.

Second International Marxism had become an obstacle. According to Luxemburg, in Reform and revolution (1900) and in Lenin’s What is to be done? (1902) – the latter of which was an attempted application of the terms of the revisionist dispute in the Second International to conditions in the Russian movement – the development of proletarian socialism in the Second International had produced its own obstacle, so to the speak, in becoming self-divided between ‘orthodox Marxists’, who retained fidelity to the revolutionary politics of proletarian socialism in terms of the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871, and ‘revisionists’, who thought that political practice and theoretical consciousness of Marxism demanded transformation under the altered historical social conditions that had been achieved by the workers’ struggle for socialism, which proceeded in an ‘evolutionary’ way.

Eduard Bernstein gave the clearest expression of this ‘revisionist’ view, which was influenced by the apparent success of British Fabianism leading to the contemporary formation of the Labour Party, and found its greatest political support among the working class’s trade union leaders in the Second International, especially in Germany. In Bernstein’s view, capitalism was evolving into socialism through the political gains of the workers.

Marxism of the Third International

Lenin, Luxemburg, and Lukács and Korsch among others following them, thought that the self-contradictory nature and character – origin and expression – of proletarian socialism meant that the latter’s development proceeded in a self-contradictory way, and so the movement of historical ‘progress’ was self-contradictory. Luxemburg summarised this view in Reform or revolution, where she pointed out that the growth in organisation and consciousness of the proletariat was itself part of – a new phenomenon of – the self-contradiction of capitalism, and so expressed itself in its own self-contradictory way. This was how Luxemburg grasped the revisionist dispute in the Marxism of the Second International itself.

This self-contradiction was theoretical as well as practical: for Luxemburg and for Lenin the ‘theoretical struggle’ was an expression of practical self-contradiction. Leon Trotsky expressed this ‘orthodox Marxist’ view shared by Lenin and Luxemburg in his 1906 pamphlet Results and prospects, on the 1905 revolution in Russia, by pointing out that the various “prerequisites of socialism”5 were self-contradictory, that they ‘retarded’ rather than promoted each other. This view was due to the understanding that proletarian socialism was bound up in the crisis of capitalism, which was disintegrative: the struggle for socialism was caught up in the disintegration of bourgeois society in capitalism 시네마 4d. For Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky, contra Bernstein, the crisis of capitalism was deepening.

While it is conventional to oppose Luxemburg’s and Lenin’s ‘revolutionary socialism’ to the ‘evolutionism’ of Bernstein et al, and hence to oppose Luxemburg’s and Lenin’s ‘dialectical’ Marxism to the revisionist, ‘mechanical’ version, what is lost in this view is the role of historical dynamics of consciousness in Lenin’s and Luxemburg’s (and Trotsky’s) view: this is the phenomenon of historical ‘regression’, as opposed to ‘progress’, which the ‘evolutionary socialism’ of Bernstein et al and later Stalinism assumed. The most important distinction of Luxemburg’s and Lenin’s (as well as Trotsky’s) ‘orthodox’ perspective – in Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) view, what made their Marxism ‘dialectical’ and ‘Hegelian’ – was its recognition of historical ‘regression’: its recognition of bourgeois society as disintegrative and self-destructive in its crisis of capitalism. But this process of disintegration was recognised as affecting the proletariat and its politics as well.

Korsch and the problem of ‘philosophy’

Karl Korsch, Lukács’s contemporary in the Third International, whose work Macnair deliberately and explicitly puts aside, offered a pithy formulation in his 1923 essay on ‘Marxism and philosophy’: “a problem which supersedes present relations may have been formulated in an anterior epoch”.6 That is, we may live under the shadow of a problem that goes beyond us.

This is a non-linear, non-progressive and recursive view of history, which Korsch gleaned from Luxemburg’s and Lenin’s contributions to the revisionist dispute (eg, Reform or revolution, What is to be done?, etc; and Trotsky’s Results and prospects). It has its origins in Marx’s and Engels’s view of capitalism as a regressive, disintegrative process. This view has two registers: the self-contradiction and crisis of bourgeois social relations in the transition to capital-ism after the industrial revolution; and the disintegrative and self-destructive process of the reproduction of capitalism itself, which takes place within and as a function of the reproduction of bourgeois social relations, through successive crises.

Marx and Engels recognised that the crisis of capitalism was motivated by the reproduction of bourgeois social relations under conditions of the disintegration of the value of labour in the industrial revolution, producing the need for socialism. The industrial-era working class’s struggle for the social value of its labour was at once regressive, as if bourgeois social relations of the value of labour had not been undermined by the industrial revolution, and pointed beyond capitalism, in that the realisation of the demands for the proper social value of labour would actually mean overcoming labour as value in society, transforming work from ‘life’s prime need’ to ‘life’s prime want’: work would be done not out of the social compulsion to labour in the valorisation process of capital, but rather out of intrinsic desire and interest; and society would provide for “each according to his need” from “each according to his ability”.

Korsch’s argument in ‘Marxism and philosophy’ was focused on a very specific problem: the status of philosophy in Marxism, in the direct sense of Marx and Engels being followers of Hegel, and Hegel representing a certain ‘end’ to philosophy, in which the world became philosophical and philosophy became worldly. Hegel announced that, with his work, philosophy was ‘completed’, as a function of recognising how society had become ‘philosophical’, or mediated through conceptual theory in ways previously not the case Download the subtitles for Mazerunner DeathCure. Marx and Engels accepted Hegel’s conclusion, in which case the issue was to further the revolution of bourgeois society – the ‘philosophical’ world that demanded worldly ‘philosophy’. The disputes among the Hegelians in the 1830s and 40s were concerned, properly, with precisely the politics of the bourgeois world and its direction for change. The problem, according to Korsch, was that, after the failure of the revolutions of 1848, there was a recrudescence of ‘philosophy’, and that this was something other than what had been practised either traditionally by the ancients or in modernity by revolutionary bourgeois thinkers – thinkers of the revolution of the bourgeois era – such as Kant and Hegel (also Rousseau, John Locke, Adam Smith et al).

What constitutes ‘philosophical’ questions? Traditionally, philosophy was concerned with three kinds of questions: ontology, what we are; epistemology, how we know; and the good life, how we ought to live. Starting with Kant, such traditional philosophical ‘first questions’ of prima philosophia or ‘first philosophy’ were no longer asked, or, if they were asked, they were strictly subordinated or rendered secondary to the question of the relation of theory and practice, or, how we account to ourselves what we are doing.

Marxism is not a philosophy in the traditional sense, any more than Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophy was traditional. Lenin, in the conclusion of Materialism and empirio-criticism (1908), summed up that the late 19th century Neo-Kantians “started with Kant and, leaving him, proceeded not [forwards] towards [Marxist] materialism, but in the opposite direction, [backwards] towards Hume and Berkeley”.7 It is not, along the lines of a traditional materialist ontology, that firstly we are material beings; epistemologically, we know the world empirically through our bodily senses; and ethically we must serve the needs of our true, material bodily nature. No. For Kant and his followers, including Hegel and Marx, rather, we consciously reflect upon an ongoing process from within its movement: we do not step back from what we are doing and try to establish a ‘first’ basis for asking our questions; those questions arise, rather, from within our ongoing practices and their transformations. Empirical facts cannot be considered primary if they are to be changed. Theory may go beyond the facts by influencing their transformation in practice.

Society is the source of our practices and their transformations, and hence of our theoretical consciousness of them. Society, according to Rousseau, is the source of our ability to act contrary to our ‘first nature’, to behave in unnatural ways darvit's dream come true. This is our freedom. And for Kant and his followers, our highest moral duty in the era of the process of ‘enlightenment’ was to serve the cause of freedom. This meant serving the revolution of bourgeois emancipation from traditional civilisation, changing society. However, Kant considered the full achievement of bourgeois society to be the mere ‘mid-point’ of the development of freedom. Hegel and Marxism inherited and assumed this projective perspective on the transitional character of bourgeois society.

Marx and Engels can be considered to have initiated a ‘second enlightenment’ in the 19th century: the degree to which capitalism presented new problems unknown in the pre-industrial revolution bourgeois era, because they had not yet arisen in practice. By contrast, philosophers who continued to ask such traditional questions of ontology, epistemology and ethics were actually addressing the problem of the relation of theory and practice in the capitalist era, whether they recognised this or not. Assuming the traditional basis for philosophical questions in the era of capitalism obscured the real issue and rendered ‘philosophy’ ideological. This is why ‘philosophy’ needed to be abolished. The question was, how?

The recrudescence of philosophy in the late 19th century was, according to Korsch, a symptom of the failure of socialism in 1848, but as such expressed a genuine need: the necessity of relating theory and practice as a problem of consciousness under conditions of capitalism. In this respect, Marxism was the sustaining of the Kantian-Hegelian ‘critical philosophy’, but under changed conditions from the bourgeois-revolutionary era to that of capitalism. Korsch analogised this to the recrudescence of the state in post-1848 Bonapartism, which contradicted the bourgeois-revolutionary, liberal prognosis of the subordination of the state to civil society and thus the state’s ‘withering away’, its functions absorbed into free social relations. This meant recognising the need to overcome recrudescent philosophy as analogous to the need to overcome the capitalist state, the transformation of its necessity through socialism. ‘Bonapartism in philosophy’ thus expressed a new, late-found need in capitalism, to free society. We look to ‘philosophers’ to do our thinking for us the same way we look to authoritarian leaders politically 다운로드.

As Korsch put it, the only way to ‘abolish’ philosophy would be to ‘realise’ it8 : socialism would be the attainment of the ‘philosophical world’ promised by bourgeois emancipation but betrayed by capitalism, which renders society – our social practices – opaque. It would be premature to say that under capitalism everyone is already a philosopher. Indeed, the point is that none are. But this is because of the alienation and reification of bourgeois social relations in capitalism, which renders the Kantian-Hegelian ‘worldly philosophy’ of the critical relation of theory and practice an aspiration rather than an actuality. Nonetheless, Marxist critical theory accepted the task of such modern critical philosophy, specifically regarding the ideological problem of theory and practice in the struggle for socialism. This is what it meant to say, as was formulated in the Second International, that the workers’ movement for socialism was the inheritor of German idealism: it was the inheritor of the revolutionary process of bourgeois emancipation, which the bourgeoisie, compromised by capitalism, had abandoned. The task remained.

Transformation of Marxism

Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky – ‘orthodox Marxists’ of the Second International who radicalised their perspectives in the crisis of the International and of Marxism in world war and revolution 1914-19, and were followed by Lukács and Korsch – were subjects of a historical moment: the crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism was expressed by social and political crisis and the movement for ‘proletarian socialist’ revolution, beginning, after the industrial revolution, in the 1830s-40s, and the attempt to revolutionise society centrally by the wage-labourers as such, a movement dominated from 1889-1914 by the practical politics as well as theoretical consciousness of Marxism.

Why would Lukács and Korsch in the 20th century return to the origins of Marxism in Hegelianism, in what Korsch called the consciousness of the ‘revolt of the third estate’, a process of the 17th and 18th centuries (that had already begun earlier)? Precisely because Lukács and Korsch sought to address Marxism’s relation to the revolt of the third estate’s bourgeois glorification of the social relations of labour, and the relation of this to the democratic revolution (see, for example, Abbé Sieyès’s revolutionary 1789 pamphlet What is the third estate?9 ): how Marxism recognised that this relation between labour and democracy continued in 19th century socialism, however problematically. In Lukács’s and Korsch’s view, proletarian socialism sustained just this bourgeois revolution, albeit under the changed conditions of the industrial revolution and its capitalist aftermath.

Mike Macnair acknowledges this in his focus on the English enlightenment ‘materialist empiricism’ of John Locke in the 17th and 18th centuries and on the British Chartism of the early 19th century, their intrinsic continuity in the democratic revolution, and Marx and Engels’s continuity with both 셜록 시즌 4. But then Macnair takes Kant and Hegel – and thus Lukács and Korsch, following them – to be counter-enlightenment and anti-democratic thinkers accommodating autocratic political authority, drawing this from Hume’s alleged turn away from the radicalism of Locke back to Hobbes’s political conservatism, and Kant and Hegel’s alleged affirmation of the Prussian state.

But this account leaves out the crucially important influence on Kant and German idealism more generally by Rousseau, of whom Hegel remarked that “freedom dawned on the world” in his works, and who critiqued and departed from Hobbes’s naturalistic society of “war of all against all” and built rather upon Locke’s contrary view of society and politics, sustaining and promoting the revolution in bourgeois society as ‘more than the sum of its parts’, revolutionary in its social relations per se, seminal for the American and French revolutions of the later 18th century. Capital in the 19th century, in the Marxist view, as the continued social compulsion to wage-labour after its crisis of value in the industrial revolution, both is and is not the Rousseauian ‘general will’ of capitalist society: it is a self-contradictory ‘mode of production’ and set of social relations, expressed through self-contradictory consciousness, in theory and practice, of its social and political subjects: first and foremost the consciousness of the proletariat. It is self-contradictory both objectively and subjectively, both in theory and in practice.

Marx’s and Engels’s point was to encourage and advance the proletariat’s critical recognition of the self-contradictory character of its struggle for socialism, in what Marx called the “logical extreme”10 of the role of the proletariat in the democratic revolution of the 19th century, which could not, according to Marx, take its “poetry” from the 17th and 18th centuries, as clearly expressed in the failure of the revolutions of 1848, Marx’s famous formulation of the need for “revolution in permanence”. What this means is that the democratic revolutionary aspirations of the wage-labourers for the “social republic” was the self-contradictory demand for the realisation of the social value of labour after this had already taken the form of accumulated capital, what Marx called the “general intellect”.

It is not the social value of labour, but rather that of this “general intellect”, which must be reappropriated, and by the wage-labourers themselves, in their discontents as subjects of democracy. The ongoing democratic revolution renders this both possible and superfluous, in that it renders the state both the agency of and obstacle to this reappropriation, in post-1848 Bonapartism, which promises everything to everyone – to solve the ‘social question’ of capitalism – but provides nothing, a diversion of the democratic revolution under conditions of self-contradictory bourgeois social relations: the state promises employment, but gives unemployment benefits or subsidises the lost value of wages.

In the 20th century, under the pressure of mass democracy – itself the result of the class struggle of the workers – the role of the state as self-contradictory and helpless manager of capitalism came to full fruition, but not through the self-conscious activity of the working class’s political struggle for socialism, confronting the need to overcome the role of the state, but more obscurely, with perverse results. Lenin’s point in The state and revolution (1917) was the need for the revolutionary transformation of society beyond “bourgeois right” that the state symptomatically expressed; but, according to Lenin, this could be accomplished only “on the basis of capitalism itself”.11 If the working class among others in bourgeois society has succumbed to what Lukács called the ‘reification’ of bourgeois social relations, then this has been completely naturalised and can no longer be called out and recognised as such 가요 미디파일 다운로드. For Lukács, ‘reification’ referred to the hypostatisation and conservatisation of the workers’ own politics in protecting their ‘class interest’ – what Lenin called mere “trade union consciousness” (including that of nationalist competition) in capitalism – rather than rising to the need to overcome this in practice, recognising how the workers’ political struggles might point beyond and transcend themselves. This included democracy, which could occult the social process of capitalism as much as reveal it.

Why still ‘philosophy’?

The problem today is that we are not faced, as Lukács and Korsch were, with the self-contradiction of the proletariat’s struggle for socialism in the political problem of the reified forms of the working class substituting for those of bourgeois society in its decadence. We replay the revolt of the third estate and its demands for the social value of labour, but we do not have occasion to recognise what Lukács regarded as the emptiness of bourgeois social relations of labour, its value evacuated by technical, but not political transcendence. We have lost sight of the problem of ‘reification’ as Lukács meant it.

As Hegel scholar Robert Pippin has concluded, in a formulation that is eminently agreeable to Korsch’s perspective on the continuation of philosophy as a symptom of failed transformation of society, in an essay addressing how, by contrast with the original “Left-Hegelian, Marxist, Frankfurt school tradition”, today, “the problem with contemporary critical theory is that it has become insufficiently critical”: perhaps philosophy “exists to remind us we haven’t gotten anywhere”.12

The problem of what Rousseau called the “reflective” and Kant and Hegel, after Rousseau, called the “speculative” relation of theory and practice in bourgeois society’s crisis in capitalism, recognised once by historical Marxism as the critical self-consciousness of proletarian socialism and its self-contradictions, has not gone away, but was only driven underground. The revolution originating in the bourgeois era in the 17th and 18th centuries that gave rise to the modern philosophy of freedom in Rousseauian enlightenment and German idealism and that advanced to new problems in the industrial revolution and the proletarianisation of society, perverting ‘bourgeois right’ into a form of domination rather than emancipation – and expressed through the Bonapartist state’s perversion of democracy, which was recognised by Marxism in the 19th century, but failed in the 20th century – may still task us.

This is why we might, still, be reading Lukács. | §

This article is based on a presentation given on January 11 2014 in Chicago. A video recording is available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyAx32lzC0U; and audio recording at https://archive.org/details/cutrone_lukacsteachin011114_201401.
Originally published in
Weekly Worker 994 (January 23, 2014) [PDF].


  1. Weekly Worker November 21 2013. []
  2. www.marxists.org/archive/korsch/1923/marxism-philosophy.htm. []
  3. Weekly Worker June 9 2011. []
  4. Weekly Worker August 11 2011. []
  5. www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/tpr/rp-index.htm. []
  6. www.marxists.org/archive/korsch/1923/marxism-philosophy.htm. []
  7. www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1908/mec/concl.htm. []
  8. www.marxists.org/archive/korsch/1923/marxism-philosophy.htm. []
  9. www.college.columbia.edu/core/sites/core/files/text/sieyes2003-4_0.pdf. []
  10. K Marx, ‘Address to the central committee of the Communist League’, March 1850. []
  11. VI Lenin ‘Leftwing’ communism: an infantile disorder, 1920. []
  12. R Pippin, ‘On critical inquiry and critical theory: a short history of non-being’ Critical Inquiry No30, winter 2004, pp416-417. []

Why still read Lukács? (video and audio recordings)

The place of “philosophical” questions in Marxism

Chris Cutrone

Presented at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, January 11, 2014. Video recording available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyAx32lzC0U; audio recording at: https://archive.org/details/cutrone_lukacsteachin011114_201401.

Still reading Lukács? The role of “critical theory”

Why read Georg Lukács today? Especially when his most famous work, History and Class Consciousness, is so clearly an expression of its specific historical moment, the aborted world revolution of 1917–19 in which he participated, attempting to follow Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. Are there “philosophical” lessons to be learned or principles to be gleaned from Lukács’s work, or is there, rather, the danger, as the Communist Party of Great Britain’s Mike Macnair has put it, of “theoretical overkill,” stymieing of political possibilities, closing up the struggle for socialism in tiny authoritarian and politically sterile sects founded on “theoretical agreement?”

Mike Macnair’s article “The philosophy trap” (2013) argues about the issue of the relation between theory and practice in the history of ostensible “Leninism,” taking issue in particular with Lukács’s books History and Class Consciousness (1923) and Lenin (1924) as well as with Karl Korsch’s 1923 essay “Marxism and philosophy.” The issue is what kind of theoretical generalization of consciousness could be derived from the experience of Bolshevism from 1903-21. I agree with Macnair that “philosophical” agreement is not the proper basis for political agreement, but this is not the same as saying that political agreement has no theoretical implications. Rather, the issue is whether theoretical “positions” have necessary political implications. I think it is a truism to say that there is no sure theoretical basis for effective political practice. But Macnair seems to be saying nothing more than this. In subordinating theory to practice, Macnair loses sight of the potential critical role theory can play in political practice, specifically the task of consciousness of history in the struggle for transforming society in an emancipatory direction.

A certain relation of theory to practice is a matter specific to the modern era, and moreover a problem specific to the era of capitalism, that is, after the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of the modern proletarianized working class and its struggle for socialism, and the crisis of bourgeois social relations and thus of consciousness of society this entails.

Critical theory recognizes that the role of theory in the attempt to transform society is not to justify or legitimate or provide normative sanction, not to rationalize what is happening anyway, but rather to critique, to explore conditions of possibility for change. The role of such critical theory is not to describe how things are, but rather how they might become, how things could and should be, but are not — yet.

The political distinction, then, would be not over the description of reality but rather the question of what can and should be changed, and over the direction of that change. Hence, critical theory as such goes beyond the distinction of analysis from description. The issue is not theoretical analysis proper to practical matters, but, beyond that, and of course incorporating this, the issue of transforming practices, and doing so with active agency and subjective recognition, as opposed to merely experiencing changed practice as something that has already happened. Indeed, capitalism itself is a transformative practice, but that transformation has eluded consciousness, specifically with regard to the ways change has happened, and political judgments about this. This is the specific role of theory, and hence the place of theoretical issues or “philosophical” concerns, in Marxism. It cannot be compared to other forms of theory, because they are not concerned with changing the world — not concerned with the politics of our changing practices Download emoji images. Lukács characterized this distinction of Marxism from “contemplative” or “reified” consciousness, to which bourgeois society had otherwise succumbed in capitalism.

If ostensibly “Marxist” tendencies such as those of the followers of Tony Cliff have botched “theory,” which undoubtedly they have, it is because they have conflated or rendered indistinct the role of critical theory as opposed to the political exigencies of propaganda: for organizations dedicated to propaganda, there must be agreement as to such propaganda; the question is the role of theory in such propaganda activity. If theory is debased to justifying propaganda, then its critical role is evacuated, and indeed it can mask opportunism. But then it ceases to be proper theory, not becoming simply “wrong” or falsified but rather ideological, which is a different matter. This is what happened, according to Lukács and Korsch, in the 2nd/Socialist International, resulting in the “vulgarization” of Marxism, or the confusion of the formulations of political propaganda instead of properly Marxist critical theorization.

The theory and practice of “proletarian socialism”

A note on the term “proletariat:” This was Marx’s neologism for the condition of the post-Industrial Revolution working class, which was analogous — but only in metaphorical analogy! — to the Ancient Roman Republic’s class of “proletarians:” the modern industrial working class was composed of “citizens without property.” In modern, bourgeois society, for instance in the view of John Locke, property in objects is derived from labor, because labor is the first property. Hence, to be a laborer without property, to be a worker without property in one’s own labor, is a self-contradiction in a very specific sense, in that the “expropriation” of labor happens as a function of society: in Marx and Engels’s view, this is a function of a self-contradictory form of society. A modern “free wage-labor” worker is supposed to be a free contractual agent with full rights of ownership and disposal over her own labor in its exchange, its buying and selling as property, or, more simply, as a commodity. This is the most elementary form of right in bourgeois society, from which other claims, for instance, individual right to one’s own person and equality before the law, flow. If, according to Marx and Engels, the condition of the modern, post-Industrial Revolution working class or “proletariat” expressed a self-contradiction of bourgeois social relations, this was because this set of social relations, or “bourgeois right,” was in need of transformation: the Industrial Revolution indicated a potential condition beyond bourgeois society. If the workers were expropriated, even though their contractual right to dispose of their own labor was already and still continued to be sanctioned by law, according to Marx and Engels, this was because of a problem of the value of labor at a greater societal level, not at the level of the individual capitalist firm, not reducible to the level of the contractual relation of the employee to her employer, which remained “fair exchange.” The wage contract was still bourgeois, but the value of the labor exchanged was undermined in the greater (global) society, which was no longer simply bourgeois but rather industrial, that is, “capital”-ist.

The struggle for socialism by the proletariat was the attempt to reappropriate the social property of labor that had been transformed and “expropriated” or “alienated” in the Industrial Revolution, which Marx and Engels thought could be achieved only beyond capitalism, for instance in the value of accumulated past labor in science and technology, as what Marx called the “general (social) intellect.” An objective condition was expressed subjectively, but that objective condition of society was itself self-contradictory and so expressed in a self-contradictory form of political subjectivity, “proletarian socialism.” The greatest exemplar for Marx and Engels of this self-contradictory form of politics aiming to transform society was Chartism, a movement of the high moment of the Industrial Revolution and its crisis in the 1830s–40s, whose most pointed political expression was, indicatively, universal suffrage. The crisis of the bust period of the “Hungry ’40s” indicated the maturation of bourgeois society, in crisis, as the preceding boom era of the 1830s already had raised expectations of socialism, politically as well as technically and culturally, for instance in the “Utopian Socialism” of Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen et al. (as well as in the “Young Hegelian” movement taking place around the world in the 1830s, on whose scene the younger Marx and Engels arrived belatedly, during its crisis and dissolution in the 1840s) convenience store game.

One must distinguish between the relation of theory and practice in the revolutionary bourgeois era and in the post-Industrial Revolution era of the crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism and the proletariat’s struggle for socialism. If in the bourgeois era there was a productive tension, a reflective, speculative or “philosophical” relation, for instance for Kant and Hegel, between theory and practice, in the era of the crisis of bourgeois society there is rather a “negative” or “critical” relation. Hence, the need for Marxism.

As the Frankfurt School Marxist Critical Theorist Theodor Adorno put it, the separation of theory and practice was emancipatory: it expressed the freedom to think at variance with prevailing social practices unknown in the Ancient or Medieval world of traditional civilization. The freedom to relate and articulate theory and practice was a hallmark of the revolutionary emergence of bourgeois society: the combined revolution in society of politics, economics, culture (religion), technique and philosophy — the latter under the rubric “Enlightenment.” By contrast, Romantic socialism of the early 19th century sought to re-unify theory and practice, to make them one thing as they had been under religious cosmology as a total way of life. If, according to Adorno, Marxism, as opposed to Romantic socialism, did not aspire to a “unity of theory and practice” in terms of their identity, but rather of their articulated separation in the transformation of society — transformation of both consciousness and social being — then what Adorno recognized was that, as he put it, the relation of theory and practice is not once-and-for-all but rather “fluctuates historically.” Marxism, through different phases of its history, itself expressed this fluctuation. But the fluctuation was an expression of crisis in Marxism, and ultimately of failure: Adorno called it a “negative dialectic.” It expressed and was tasked by the failure of the revolution. But this failure was not merely the failure of the industrial working class’s struggle for socialism in the early 20th century, but rather that failure was the failure of the emancipation of the bourgeois revolution: this failure consumed history, undermining the past achievements of freedom — as Adorno’s colleague Walter Benjamin put it, “Even the dead are not safe.” Historical Marxism is not a safe legacy but suffers the vicissitudes of the present. If we still are reading Lukács, we need to recognize the danger to which his thought, as part of Marxism’s history, is subject in the present. One way of protecting historical Marxism’s legacy would be through recognizing its inapplicability in the present, distancing it from immediate enlistment in present concerns, which would concede too much already, undermining — liquidating without redeeming — consciousness once already achieved.

The division in Marxism: Lukács with Lenin and Luxemburg as “orthodox”

The title of Lukács’s book History and Class Consciousness should be properly understood directly as indicating that Lukács’s studies, the various essays collected in the book, were about class consciousness as consciousness of history. This goes back to the early Marx and Engels, who understood the emergence of the modern proletariat and its political struggles for socialism after the Industrial Revolution in a “Hegelian” manner, that is, as phenomena or “forms of appearance” of society and history specific to the 19th century. Moreover, Marx and Engels, in their point of departure for “Marxism” as opposed to other varieties of Hegelianism and socialism, looked forward to the dialectical “Aufhebung” of this new modern proletariat: its simultaneous self-fulfillment and completion, self-negation, and self-transcendence in socialism, which would be (also) that of capitalism. In other words, Marx and Engels regarded the proletariat in the struggle for socialism as the central, key phenomenon of capitalism, but the symptomatic expression of its crisis, self-contradiction and need for self-overcoming. This is because capitalism was regarded by Marx and Engels as a form of society, specifically the form of bourgeois society’s crisis and self-contradiction.  As Hegelians, Marx and Engels regarded contradiction as the appearance of the necessity and possibility for change. So, the question becomes, what is the meaning of the self-contradiction of bourgeois society, the self-contradiction of bourgeois social relations, expressed by the post-Industrial Revolution working class and its forms of political struggle 람보 라스트워?

This latter part is key, for Marx and Engels regarded the politics of proletarian socialism as a form of bourgeois politics in crisis and self-contradiction. This is what it meant for Marx and Engels to say that the objective existence of the proletariat (“propertyless” workers) and its subjective struggle for socialism were phenomena of the self-contradiction of bourgeois society and its potential Aufhebung.

The struggle for socialism was self-contradictory. This is what Lukács emphasized and ruminated on in History and Class Consciousness. But this was not original to Lukács or achieved simply by Lukács’s reading of Marx and Engels, but rather mediated through consideration of and attempted active participation in the politics of Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg: Lenin and Luxemburg provided access, for Lukács as well as others in the nascent 3rd or Communist International, to the “original Marxism” of Marx and Engels. For Marx and Engels recognized that socialism was inevitably ideological: a self-contradictory form of politics and consciousness. The question was how to advance the contradiction.

As an active participant in the project of the Communist International, for Lukács in his books History and Class Consciousness and Lenin (as well as for Karl Korsch in “Marxism and philosophy” and other writings circa 1923), the intervening Marxism of the 2nd or Socialist International had become an obstacle to Marx and Engels’s Marxism and thus to proletarian socialist revolution in the early 20th century, an obstacle that the political struggles of Lenin, Luxemburg and other radicals in the 2nd International sought to overcome. This obstacle of 2nd International Marxism had theoretical as well as practical-political aspects: it was expressed both at the level of theoretical consciousness as well as at the level of political organization.

It is important to note that the 2nd International Marxism had become an obstacle. Indeed, according to Luxemburg, in Reform and Revolution (1900) and in Lenin’s What is to be Done? (1902) (the latter of which was an attempted application of the terms of the Revisionist Dispute in the 2nd International to conditions in the Russian movement), the development of proletarian socialism in the 2nd International had produced its own obstacle, so to the speak, in becoming self-divided between “orthodox Marxists” who retained fidelity to the revolutionary politics of proletarian socialism in terms of the Revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871, and “Revisionists” who thought that political practice and theoretical consciousness of Marxism demanded transformation under the altered historical social conditions that had been achieved by the workers’ struggle for socialism, which proceeded in an “evolutionary” way. Eduard Bernstein gave the clearest expression of this “Revisionist” view, which indicatively was influenced by the British Fabianism (by Bernstein’s participation in working class politics while living in political exile in the U.K.) that led to the contemporary formation of the Labour Party, and found its greatest political support among the working class’s trade union leaders in the 2nd International, especially in Germany.

Marxism of the Third International

Lenin, Luxemburg, and Lukács and Korsch among others following them, thought that the self-contradictory nature and character — origin and expression — of proletarian socialism meant that the latter’s development proceeded in a self-contradictory way, which meant that the movement of historical “progress” was self-contradictory. Luxemburg summarized this view in Reform or Revolution, where she pointed out that the growth in organization and consciousness of the proletariat was itself part of — a new phenomenon of — the self-contradiction of capitalism, and so expressed itself in its own self-contradictory way. This was how Luxemburg grasped the Revisionist Dispute in the Marxism of the 2nd International itself. This self-contradiction was theoretical as well as practical: for Luxemburg and for Lenin the “theoretical struggle” was an expression of practical self-contradiction. Leon Trotsky expressed this “orthodox Marxist” view shared by Lenin and Luxemburg in his 1906 Results and Prospects, on the 1905 Revolution in Russia, by pointing out that the “pre-requisites of socialism” were self-contradictory: that they “retarded” rather than promoted each other. This view was due to the understanding that proletarian socialism was bound up in the crisis of capitalism which was disintegrative: the struggle for socialism was caught up in the disintegration of bourgeois society in capitalism 월리를 찾아라. For Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky contra Bernstein, the crisis of capitalism was deepening.

One of the clearest expressions of this disintegrative process of self-contradiction in Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky’s time was the relation of capitalism as a global system to the political divisions between national states in the era of “monopoly capital” and “imperialism” that led to the World War, but was already apprehended in the Revisionist Dispute at the turn of the 20th century as expressing the need for socialism — the need for proletarian political revolution. Lenin and Luxemburg’s academic doctoral dissertations of the 1890s, on the development of capitalism in Russia and Poland, respectively, addressed this phenomenon of “combined and uneven” development in the epoch of capitalist crisis, disintegration and “decay,” as expressing the need for world revolution. Moreover, Lenin in What is to be Done? expressed the perspective that the Revisionist Dispute in Marxism was itself an expression of the crisis of capitalism manifesting within the socialist workers’ movement, a prelude to revolution.

While it is conventional to oppose Luxemburg and Lenin’s “revolutionary socialism” to Bernstein et al.’s “evolutionism,” and hence to oppose Luxemburg and Lenin’s “dialectical” Marxism to the Revisionist “mechanical” one, what is lost in this view is the role of historical dynamics of consciousness in Lenin and Luxemburg’s (and Trotsky’s) view: this is the phenomenon of historical “regression” as opposed to “progress,” which the “evolutionary socialism” of Bernstein et al. assumed and later Stalinism also assumed.  The most important distinction of Luxemburg and Lenin’s (as well as Trotsky’s) “orthodox” perspective — in Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) view, what made their Marxism “dialectical” and “Hegelian” — was its recognition of historical “regression” — its recognition of bourgeois society as disintegrative and self-destructive in its crisis of capitalism. But this process of disintegration was recognized as affecting the proletariat and its politics as well. Benjamin and Adorno’s theory of regression began here.

Historical regression

The question is how to properly recognize, in political practice as well as theory, the ways in which the struggle for proletarian socialism — socialism achieved by way of the political action of wage-laborers in the post-Industrial Revolution era as such — is caught up and participates in the process of capitalist disintegration: the expression of proletarian socialism as a phenomenon of history, specifically as a phenomenon of crisis and regression.

This history has multiple registers: there is the principal register of the post-Industrial Revolution crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism, its crisis and departure from preceding bourgeois social relations (those of the prior, pre-industrial eras of “cooperation” and “manufacture” of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, in Marx’s terms); but there is also the register of the dynamics and periods within capitalism itself. Capitalism was for Marx and Engels already the regression of bourgeois society. This is where Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) perspective, derived from Luxemburg and Lenin’s (and Trotsky’s) views from 1900-19, what they considered an era of “revolution,” might become problematic for us, today: the history of the post-1923 world has not been, as 1848–1914 was in the 2nd International “orthodox” or “radical” Marxist (as opposed to Revisionist) view, a process of increasing crisis and development of revolutionary political necessities, but rather a process of continued social disintegration of capitalism without, however, this being expressed in and through the struggle for proletarian socialism.

It is important to note that Lukács (and Korsch) abandoned rather rapidly their 1923 perspectives, adjusting to developing circumstances of a non-revolutionary era.

Here is where the problematic relation of Tony Cliff’s political project to Lukács (and Korsch), and hence to Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, may be located: in Cliff’s perspective on his (post-1945) time being a “non-revolutionary” one, demanding a project of “propaganda” that is related to but differs significantly from the moment of Lenin et al. For the Cliffites and their organizations, “political practice” is one of propaganda in a non-revolutionary period, in which political action is less of a directly practical but rather of an exemplary-propagandistic significance. This has been muddled by “movement-building.”

This was not the case for Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky, whose political practice was directly about the struggle for power, and in whose practical project Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) “theoretical” work sought to participate, offering attempts at clarification of self-understanding to revolutionaries “on the march.” Cliff and his followers, at least at their most self-conscious, have known that they were doing something essentially different from Lenin et al.: they were not organizing a revolutionary political party seeking a bid for power as part of an upsurge of working class struggle in the context of a global movement (the 2nd International), as had been the case for Lenin at the time of What is to be Done? (1902), or Luxemburg’s Mass Strike pamphlet and Trotsky in the Russian Revolution of 1905. Yet the Cliffites have used the ideas of Lenin and Luxemburg and their followers, such as Lukács and Korsch as well as Trotsky, to justify their practices Download Grey's Anatomy Season 3. This presents certain problems. Yes, Lenin et al. have become ideological in the hands of the Cliffites, among others — “Leninism” for the Stalinists most prominently. So the question turns to the status of Lenin’s ideas in themselves and in their own moment.

Mike Macnair points out that Lukács’s (and Korsch’s) works circa 1923 emphasized attack and so sought to provide a “theory of the offensive,” as opposed to Lenin’s arguments about the necessities of “retreat” in 1920 (as against and in critique of “Left-Wing” Communism) and what Macnair has elsewhere described as the need for “Kautskyan patience” in politically building for proletarian socialism (as in the era of the 2nd International 1889–1914), and so this limits the perspective of Lukács (and Korsch), after Lenin and Luxemburg (and Trotsky), to a period of “civil war” (1905, 1914/17–19/20/21). In this, Macnair is concerned, rightly, with “theory” becoming a blinder to proper political practice: “theoretical overkill” is a matter of over-“philosophizing” politics. But there is a difference between active campaigning in the struggle for power, whether in attack or (temporary) retreat, and propagandizing, to which Marxism (at best) has been relegated ever since the early 20th century.

However, in raising, by contrast, the need for a conscious openness to “empirical reality” of political experience, Macnair succumbs to a linear-progressive view of history as well as of political practice, turning this into a matter of “lessons learned:” it becomes a quantitative rather than qualitative matter. Moreover, it becomes a matter of theory in a conventional rather than the Marxist “critical” sense, in which the description of reality and its analysis approach more and more adequate approximations.

Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, and so Lukács (and Korsch), as “orthodox” as opposed to “revisionist” Marxists, conceived of the development of consciousness, both theoretically and practically-organizationally, rather differently, in that a necessary “transformation of Marxism,” which took place in the “peculiar guise” of a “return to the original Marxism of Marx and Engels” (Korsch), could be an asset in the present. But that “present” was the “crisis of Marxism” 1914–19, which is not, today, our moment — as even Cliff and his followers, with their notion of “propaganda” in a non-revolutionary era, have recognized (as did Lukács and Korsch, in subsequently abandoning their circa-1923 perspectives).

So what is the status of such ideas in a non-revolutionary era?

Korsch and the problem of “philosophy”

Karl Korsch, Lukács’s contemporary in the 3rd Intl., whose work Macnair deliberately and explicitly puts aside in his attack on the problematic legacy of Lukács’s books History and Class Consciousness and Lenin for the Cliffites, offered a pithy formulation in his 1923 essay on “Marxism and philosophy,” which is that “a problem which supersedes present relations may have been formulated in an anterior epoch.”

This is a non-linear, non-progressive and recursive view of history, which Korsch gleaned from Luxemburg and Lenin’s contributions to the Revisionist Dispute in the 2nd International (e.g., Reform or Revolution, What is to be Done?, etc.; and Trotsky’s Results and Prospects). It has its origins in Marx and Engels’s view of capitalism as a regressive, disintegrative process. This view has two registers: the self-contradiction and crisis of bourgeois social relations in the transition to capitalism after the Industrial Revolution; and the disintegrative and self-destructive process of the reproduction of capitalism itself, which takes place within and as a function of the reproduction of bourgeois social relations, through successive crises.

Marx and Engels recognized that the crisis of capitalism was motivated by the reproduction of bourgeois social relations under conditions of the disintegration of the value of labor in the Industrial Revolution, producing the need for socialism. The industrial-era working class’s struggle for the social value of its labor was at once regressive, as if bourgeois social relations of the value of labor had not been undermined by the Industrial Revolution, and pointed beyond capitalism, in that the realization of the demands for proper social value of labor would mean overcoming labor as value in society, transforming work from “life’s prime need” to “life’s prime want:” work would be done not out of the social compulsion to labor in the valorization process of capital, but rather out of intrinsic desire and interest; and society would provide for “each according to his need” from “each according to his ability.” As Adorno, a later follower of Lukács and Korsch’s works circa 1923 that had converted him to Marxism, put it, getting beyond capitalism would mean overcoming the “law of labor.”

Korsch’s argument in his 1923 essay “Marxism and philosophy” was focused on a very specific problem, the status of philosophy in Marxism, in the direct sense of Marx and Engels being followers of Hegel, and Hegel representing a certain “end” to philosophy, in which the world became philosophical and philosophy became worldly. Hegel announced that with his work, philosophy was “completed,” as a function of recognizing how society had become “philosophical,” or mediated through conceptual theory in ways previously not the case Download Minecraft Pocket Edition 0.11.0. Marx and Engels accepted Hegel’s conclusion, in which case the issue was to further the revolution of bourgeois society — the “philosophical” world that demanded worldly “philosophy.” The disputes among the Hegelians in the 1830s and ’40s were concerned, properly, with precisely the politics of the bourgeois world and its direction of change. The problem, according to Korsch, was that, post-1848, there was a recrudescence of “philosophy,” and that this was something other than what had been practiced either traditionally by the Ancients or in modernity by revolutionary bourgeois thinkers — thinkers of the revolution of the bourgeois era — such as Kant and Hegel (also Rousseau, John Locke, Adam Smith, et al.).

The recrudescence of philosophy in the late 19th century was, according to Korsch, a symptom of the failure of socialism in 1848, but as such expressed a genuine need: the necessity of relating theory and practice as a problem of consciousness under conditions of capitalism. In this respect, Marxism was the sustaining of the Kantian-Hegelian “critical philosophy” but under changed conditions from the bourgeois-revolutionary era to that of capitalism. Korsch analogized this to the recrudescence of the state in post-1848 Bonapartism, which contradicted the bourgeois-revolutionary, liberal prognosis of the subordination of the state to civil society and thus the state’s “withering away,” its functions absorbed into free social relations. This meant recognizing the need to overcome recrudescent philosophy as analogous to the need to overcome the capitalist state, the transformation of its necessity through socialism. “Bonapartism in philosophy” expressed a new, late found need in capitalism to free society.

As Korsch put it, the only way to “abolish” philosophy would be to “realize” it: socialism would be the attainment of the “philosophical world” promised by bourgeois emancipation but betrayed by capitalism, which renders society opaque. It would be premature to say that under capitalism everyone is already a philosopher. Indeed, the point is that none are. But this is because of the alienation and reification of bourgeois social relations in capitalism, which renders the Kantian-Hegelian “worldly philosophy” of the critical relation of theory and practice an aspiration rather than an actuality. Nonetheless, Marxist critical theory accepted the task of such modern critical philosophy, specifically regarding the ideological problem of theory and practice in the struggle for socialism. This is what it  meant to say, as was formulated in the 2nd International, that the workers’ movement for socialism was the inheritor of German Idealism: it was the inheritor of the revolutionary process of bourgeois emancipation, which the bourgeoisie, compromised by capitalism, had abandoned. The task remained.

Transformation of Marxism through “return” to Marx — and return to the bourgeois revolution

Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, “orthodox Marxists” of the 2nd International who radicalized their perspectives in the crisis of the 2nd International and of Marxism in world war and revolution 1914–19, and were followed by new converts to Marxism such as Lukács and Korsch, were subjects of a historical moment in which the crisis of bourgeois society in capitalism was expressed by social and political crisis and the movement for “proletarian socialist” revolution, beginning, after the Industrial Revolution, in the 1830s–40s, the attempt to revolutionize society centrally by the wage-laborers as such, a movement dominated from 1889–1914 by the practical politics as well as theoretical consciousness of Marxism. — However, we must recognize today that that moment was lost.

Why would Lukács and Korsch in the 20th century return to the origins of Marxism in Hegelianism, in what Korsch called the consciousness of the “revolt of the Third Estate?,” a process of the 17th and 18th centuries (that had already begun earlier)? Precisely because Lukács and Korsch sought to address Marxism’s relation to the revolt of the Third Estate’s bourgeois glorification of the social relations of labor, and the relation of this to the democratic revolution (see for example the Abbé Sieyès’s revolutionary 1789 pamphlet What is the Third Estate?): how Marxism recognized that this relation between labor and democracy continued in 19th century socialism. In Lukács and Korsch’s view, proletarian socialism sustained just this bourgeois revolution, albeit under the changed conditions of the Industrial Revolution and its capitalist aftermath 에어로빅 음악. Mike Macnair acknowledges this in his focus on the English Enlightenment “materialism” of John Locke in the 17th and 18th centuries and the British Chartism of the early 19th century, their intrinsic continuity in the democratic revolution, and Marx and Engels’s continuity with both. But then Macnair takes Kant and Hegel — and thus Lukács and Korsch following them — to be counter-Enlightenment and anti-democratic thinkers accommodating autocratic political authority, drawing this from Hume’s alleged turn away from the radicalism of Locke back to Hobbes’s political conservatism, and Kant and Hegel’s alleged affirmation of the Prussian state. But this leaves out the crucially important influence on Kant and German Idealism more generally by Rousseau, of whom Hegel remarked that “freedom dawned on the world” in his works, and who critiqued and departed from Hobbes’s society of “war of all against all” and built rather upon Locke’s view of society and politics, sustaining and promoting the revolution in bourgeois society as “more than the sum of its parts,” revolutionary in its social relations per se, seminal for the American and French Revolutions of the later 18th century. Capital, as the continued social compulsion to wage-labor after its crisis of value in the Industrial Revolution, both is and is not the Rousseauian “general will” of capitalist society: it is a self-contradictory “mode of production” and set of social relations, expressed through self-contradictory consciousness, in theory and practice, of its social and political subjects, first and foremost the consciousness of the proletariat.

Marx and Engels’s point was the proletariat’s critical recognition of the self-contradictory character of its struggle for socialism, in what Marx called the “logical extreme” of the role of the proletariat in the democratic revolution of the 19th century, which could not, according to Marx, take its “poetry” from the 17th and 18th centuries, as clearly expressed in the failure of the revolutions of 1848 (“Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League,” 1850), Marx’s famous formulation of the need for “revolution in permanence.”  What this means is that the democratic revolutionary aspirations of the wage-laborers for the “social republic” was the self-contradictory demand for the realization of the social value of labor after this had already taken the form of accumulated capital, what Marx called the “general intellect.” It is not the social value of labor, but rather that of this “general intellect” which must be reappropriated, and by the wage-laborers themselves, in their discontents as subjects of democracy. The ongoing democratic revolution renders this both possible and superfluous in that it renders the state both the agency and obstacle to this reappropriation, in post-1848 Bonapartism, which promises everything to everyone — to overcome the “social question” of capitalism —  but provides nothing, a diversion of the democratic revolution under conditions of self-contradictory bourgeois social relations: the state promises employment but gives unemployment benefits or subsidizes the lost value of wages; as Adorno put it, the workers get a cut of the profits of capital, to prevent revolution (“Late capitalism or industrial society?” AKA “Is Marx obsolete?,” 1968). Or, as Adorno’s colleague, the director of the Frankfurt Institute Max Horkheimer put it, the Industrial Revolution and its continued social ramifications made not labor but the workers “superfluous.” This created a very dangerous political situation — clearly expressed by the catastrophic events of the 20th century, mediated by mass “democratic” movements.

Marxism in the 20th century

In the 20th century, under the pressure of mass democracy — itself the result of the class struggle of the workers — the role of the state as self-contradictory and helpless manager of capitalism came to full fruition, but not through the self-conscious activity of the working class’s political struggle for socialism, confronting the need to overcome the role of the state, but more obscurely, with perverse results. Lenin’s point in The State and Revolution (1917) was the need for the revolutionary transformation of society beyond “bourgeois right” that the state symptomatically expressed; but, according to Lenin, this could be accomplished only “on the basis of capitalism itself” (“Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, 1920). If the working class among others in bourgeois society has succumbed to what Lukács called the “reification” of bourgeois social relations, then this has been completely naturalized and can no longer be called out and recognized as such. For Lukács, “reification” referred to the hypostatization and conservatization of the workers’ own politics in protecting their “class interest,” what Lenin called mere “trade union consciousness” (including that of nationalist competition) in capitalism, rather than rising to the need to overcome this in practice, recognizing how the workers’ political struggles might point beyond and transcend themselves. This included democracy, which could occult the social process of capitalism as much as reveal it.

One phenomenon of such reification in the 20th century was what Adorno called the “veil of technology,” which included the appearance of capital as a thing (as in capital goods, or techniques of organizing production), rather than as Marxism recognized it, a social relation, however self-contradictory.

The anti-Marxist, liberal (yet still quite conservative) Heideggerian political theorist Hannah Arendt (and an antagonist of Adorno and other Marxist “Critical Theorists” of the Frankfurt School, who was however married to a former Communist follower of Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacus League of 1919), expressed well how the working class in the 20th century developed after the failure of Marxism:

The modern age has carried with it a theoretical glorification of labor and has resulted in an actual transformation of the whole of society into a laboring society. The fulfilment of the wish, therefore, like the fulfilment of wishes in fairy tales, comes at a moment when it can only be self-defeating. It is a society of laborers which is about to be liberated from the fetters of labor [by technical automation], and this society does no longer know of those other higher and more meaningful activities for the sake of which this freedom would deserve to be won Download My Home Entertainment Room4 710. Within this society, which is egalitarian because this is labor’s way of making men live together, there is no class left, no aristocracy of either a political or spiritual nature from which a restoration of the other capacities of man could start anew. Even presidents, kings, and prime ministers think of their offices in terms of a job necessary for the life of society, and among the intellectuals, only solitary individuals are left who consider what they are doing in terms of work and not in terms of making a living. What we are confronted with is the prospect of a society of laborers without labor, that is, without the only activity left to them. Surely, nothing could be worse. (The Human Condition [Vita Activa], 1958.)

Compare this to what Heidegger offered in Nazi-era lectures on “Overcoming metaphysics,” that, “The still hidden truth of Being is withheld from metaphysical humanity.  The laboring animal is left to the giddy whirl of its products so that it may tear itself to pieces and annihilate itself in empty nothingness” (The End of Philosophy, ed. and trans. Joan Stambaugh [University of Chicago Press, 2003], 87); and, in “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” (1964), the place of Marx in this process: “With the reversal of metaphysics which was already accomplished by Karl Marx, the most extreme possibility of philosophy is attained” (Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell [New York: HarperCollins, 1993],433 ). But this was Heidegger blaming Marxism and the “metaphysics of labor” championed politically by the bourgeois revolt of the Third Estate and inherited by the workers’ movement for socialism, without recognizing as Marx did the self-contradictory character in capitalism; Heidegger, for whom “only a god can still save us” (1966 interview in Der Spiegel, published posthumously May 31, 1976), and Arendt following him, demonized technologized society as a dead-end of “Western metaphysics” allegedly going back to the Socratic turn of ‘science” followed by Plato and Aristotle in Classical Antiquity, rather than recognizing it as a symptom of the need to transform society, capitalism and its need for socialism as a transitional condition of history.

This was the resulting flat “contradiction” that replaced the prior “dialectical” contradiction of “proletarian socialism” recognized by Marxism, whose theoretical recovery, in the context of the crisis of Marxism in the movement from the 2nd to 3rd Internationals, had been attempted by Lukács and Korsch. What Arendt called merely the (objective) “human condition,” the “vita activa” and its perverse nihilistic destiny in modern society, was, once, the (subjective) “dialectical,” self-contradictory “standpoint of the proletariat” in Marxism, as the “class consciousness” of history: the historical need for the proletariat to overcome and abolish itself as a class, including its own standpoint of “consciousness,” its regressive bourgeois demand to reappropriate the value of labor in capitalism, which would both realize and negate the “bourgeois right” of the value of labor in society. Socialism was recognized by Marxism as the raising and advancing of the self-contradiction of capitalism to the “next stage,” motivated by the necessity and possibility for “communism.” What Arendt could only apprehend as a baleful telos, the society of labor overcoming itself, Marxism once recognized as the need for revolution, to advance the contradiction in socialism.

When Marxists such as Adorno or Lukács can only sound to us like Arendt (or Heidegger!), this is because we no longer live in the revolution. Adorno:

According to [Marxist] theory, history is the history of class struggles. But the concept of class is bound up with the emergence of the proletariat. . . . If all the oppression that man has ever inflicted upon man culminates in the cold inhumanity of free wage labor, then . . . the archaic silence of pyramids and ruins becomes conscious of itself in materialist thought: it is the echo of factory noise in the landscape of the immutable. . . . This means, however, that dehumanization is also its opposite. In reified human beings reification finds its outer limits. . . . Only when the victims completely assume the features of the ruling civilization will they be capable of wresting them from the dominant power Docker Container. . . . Even if the dynamic at work was always the same, its end today is not the end. (“Reflections on class theory,” 1942.)

Lukács:

[As Hegel said,] directly before the emergence of something qualitatively new, the old state of affairs gathers itself up into its original, purely general, essence, into its simple totality, transcending and absorbing back into itself all those marked differences and peculiarities which it evinced when it was still viable. . . . [I]n the age of the dissolution of capitalism, the fetishistic categories collapse and it becomes necessary to have recourse to the “natural form” underlying them. . . . As the antagonism becomes more acute two possibilities open up for the proletariat. It is given the opportunity to substitute its own positive contents for the emptied and bursting husks. But also it is exposed to the danger that for a time at least it might adapt itself ideologically to conform to these, the emptiest and most decadent forms of bourgeois culture. (“Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923.)

Why still “philosophy?”

The problem today is that we are not faced with the self-contradiction of the proletariat’s struggle for socialism in the political problem of the “reified forms” of the working class substituting for those of bourgeois society in its “decadence.” We replay the revolt of the Third Estate and its demands for the social value of labor — at best, but, really, repeat the early bourgeois Protestant Christian demand for social “justice,” however more nebulously. We do not have occasion to recognize the “emptiness” of bourgeois social relations of labor, its value evacuated by technical but not political transcendence. Indeed, now we have lost sight of the problem of “reification” at all as Lukács meant it.

As Hegel scholar Robert Pippin has recently concluded, in a formulation that is eminently agreeable to Korsch’s perspective on the continuation of philosophy as a symptom of failed transformation of society, in an essay addressing how, by contrast with the original “Left-Hegelian, Marxist, Frankfurt school tradition,” “the problem with contemporary critical theory is that it has become insufficiently critical:” “Perhaps [philosophy] exists to remind us we haven’t gotten anywhere” (“On Critical Inquiry and critical theory: A short history of non-being,” Critical Inquiry 30 [Winter 2004], 416–417). The question is the proper role of critical theory and “philosophical” questions in politics. In the absence of Marxism, other thinking is called to address this — for instance, Arendt (or worse: see Carl Schmitt).

Recognizing the potential political abuse of “philosophy” does not mean, however, that we must agree with Heidegger, that, “Philosophy will not be able to bring about a direct change of the present state of the world” (Der Spiegel interview). Especially since Marxism is not only (a history of) a form of politics, but also, as the Hegel and Frankfurt School scholar Gillian Rose put it, a “mode of cognition sui generis” (review of the English translation of Adorno’s Negative Dialectics [1973] in The American Political Science Review 70.2 [June 1976], 598–599). This is because, as the late 19th century sociologist Emile Durkheim put it, (bourgeois) society is an “object of cognition sui generis.” Furthermore, capitalism is a problem of social transformation sui generis — one with which we still might struggle, at least hopefully! Marxism is hence a mode of politics sui generis — one whose historical memory has become very obscure. This is above all a practical problem, but one which registers also “philosophically” in “theory.”

The problem of what Rousseau called the “reflective” and Kant and Hegel, after Rousseau, called the “speculative” relation of theory and practice in bourgeois society’s crisis in capitalism, recognized once by historical Marxism as the critical self-consciousness of proletarian socialism and its self-contradictions, has not gone away but was only driven underground. The revolution originating in the bourgeois era in the 17th and 18th centuries that gave rise to the modern philosophy of freedom in Rousseauian Enlightenment and German Idealism and that advanced to new problems in the Industrial Revolution and the proletarianization of society, perverting “bourgeois right” into a form of domination rather than emancipation, and expressed through the Bonapartist state’s perversion of democracy, which was recognized by Marxism in the 19th century but failed in the 20th century, may still task us.

This is why we might, still, be reading Lukács. | §


Background readings:

Readings for teach-in on the Communist Party of Great Britain’s campaign against Lukács and its stakes for Platypus as a project Download Freddy's Pizzeria1.

Mike Macnair, “The philosophy trap” 11/21/13

Chris Cutrone, “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique” 8/11/11

Georg Lukács, Original Preface (1922) to History and Class Consciousness (1923)

Articles in exchange originally published in Weekly Worker January 24 – March 14, 2013. [PDF]

James Turley, “The antinomies of Georg Lukács” 1/24/13

Chris Cutrone, “Regression” 1/31/13

James Turley, “Dummy” 2/21/13

Chris Cutrone, “Nota bene” 2/28/13

James Turley, “Bacon” 3/7/13

Lawrence Parker, “Lukács reloaded” 3/7/13

Chris Cutrone, “Unreloaded” 3/14/13

Supplemental reading:

Chris Cutrone, “Gillian Rose’s ‘Hegelian’ critique of Marxism” 3/1/10

Video and audio recordings of Chicago teach-in 1/11/14:

Platypus “position” on “imperialism”

Chris Cutrone

Submitted as a letter to the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) Weekly Worker on May 21, 2013, and published there in slightly edited form on May 30, 2013.

We in Platypus have been called out for taking an alleged at least tacit “pro-imperialist” political position. The CPGB’s Mike Macnair and others have characterized our expressed opinion, that we “did not support” the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (and Libya), as implying that we also “did not oppose” them. This is untrue.

The Spartacists, for example, take the position of “no political support” for Right-wing military forces against the U.S Download the hymn book. and its allies. But what they really wanted in Iraq was not the military and political victory of the insurgency against the occupation, but rather a meteorite to hit the Green Zone. But this was not a political position. For what the Spartacists among others wanted was a military defeat for the U.S. government et al. without this being a concomitant political victory for the Iraqi Right — former Baathists and Sunni and Shia Islamists. Let’s not mince words: such forces are the Right, at least as much as the U.S. government and its allies are. It is not the case that somehow the action of Baathists and Sunni and Shia Islamists increased democratic possibilities in Iraq against the U.S kmsauto 다운로드. government and allied occupation.

The actual Iraqi Left — the Iraqi Communist Party and Worker-communist Party of Iraq — chose politically not to mount its own let alone join in the existing military forces occasionally opposing the U.S. government and allied occupation, but rather to oppose the latter as well as the former in other ways, through working class organizing and strike action, to some limited success, for instance in preventing the privatization of the Iraqi oil industry. The international Left largely scorned them, in favor of a fantastical imagined “anti-imperialist” insurgency, which was not that but rather an ethno-religious sectarian-communal civil war among forces targeting each other far more than they targeted the U.S 서이추 프로그램. government and its allies, jockeying for a position within the occupation and its political settlement, not against it.

The question is one’s attitude towards the state. One can oppose the police politically without thinking that withdrawing them from poor neighborhoods immediately is a good idea. Should street gangs take over in their place? And the gang example is quite instructive, since they fight against each other more than they do against the state, with which they strike a modus vivendi Microsoft office word. One might imagine that police withdrawal and gang takeover opens possibilities for working class democratic action, but it doesn’t, since the very gangs that the police once fought against, however weakly, would simply be enlisted by the police once the working class took any action that the greater ruling class needed to oppose. This is because the gangs are part of the capitalist system. Indeed, they are a constant resource for the state and for the capitalist class, not an opposition — let alone a democratic one — to it. This is seen simply in how the capitalist ruling class recruits its members from among literal gangsters, historically and up to the present. “Gangs” are merely less politically successful capitalists Download the free sound. This is why, for instance, the capitalist state constantly seeks to characterize labor unions as “gangsters,” as labor “racketeers” — which indeed they do degenerate into, with more or less respectability as junior capitalists, without the struggle for socialism.

The same is true regarding supposed “anti-imperialist” politics. In Iraq, the former Baathists, and Sunni and Shia traditionalists and Islamists may have opposed the U.S. government and its allies on occasion and over specific issues, but they were not in any way anti-imperialist. They were at best petit-bourgeois democrats, at worst sectarian communalists and (at least quasi-)fascists 짱구는 못말려 게임. They could and indeed have in fact provided local political leadership and power-structures that serve global capitalism and oppose the interests of workers both locally and internationally. Just because they and the U.S. government and its allies might oppose each other occasionally does not mean that they express fundamentally different social forces. They are all pro-capitalist, and all anti-democratic.

Moreover, the phenomenon of geographical regions relatively lacking in the stable rule of bourgeois law-and-order is not only not particularly good for the workers and other democratic interests locally, but also not elsewhere, since it contributes to the potential political degradation everywhere, for instance by justifying greater police repression elsewhere to contain the zones of disorder Download the game Talk. Those who think that local disorder is good are giving in to at best nationalist politics (whether or not dressed up as ideologically different from this, for instance in religious garb), not promoting the global liberation of the working class or the increased democratic self-determination of society.

So the question is not whether Platypus opposed U.S. et al. imperialism, but rather why we thought that the Left suffered from a glaring lack of adequate perspectives on how to actually politically oppose imperialist aggression. Platypus was founded in response to the failure of the anti-war movement, and we were motivated to host the conversation on the potential political reasons for this app-chan.com file. This was slandered by the existing, failing Left as somehow opposing the anti-war movement, where what we opposed was its fatal misleadership. And we wanted to open the broadest possible discussion of the problem of such misleadership. It is not an accident that we hosted our first public forum as a conversation between various different anti-imperialist perspectives. Only a deliberate distortion of the facts can characterize our project otherwise.

We in Platypus opposed the U.S. invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and more recently in Libya. We only questioned how they could be opposed that would not further degrade the workers and other democratic interests politically Thank you for downloading. We felt that the anti-war movement’s misleadership opened it to criticisms by liberals and social democrats who indeed supported the war that the anti-war movement couldn’t adequately answer let alone win over. And it is indeed the task of a true Left to win over or at least neutralize such ostensibly democratic politics — not to provide “Leftist” rationalizations for some temporary and opportunistic oppositions that might occasionally come from the hard-bitten Right of nationalists or worse. It is not for the Left to make common cause with the Right against the Center, for the Right is even more consistently pro-imperialist — pro-capitalist — than the liberals and social democrats are Behind the scenes download of Skycastle.

That’s the truth the current (mis)leading “Left” can’t face, and so they attack Platypus instead for pointing this out. We say, “The Left is dead!” because it’s become a protest-demonstration organizing gang for time-servers in a membership-dues racket. Of course they object to the unmasking of their ideological adaptation to and political complicity, however minor, with the capitalist status quo. We say, “Long live the Left!” because it is long since past time to stop regarding the capitalist system’s disreputable elements as some emancipatory force, substituting this for what does not yet but needs to exist politically.

— Chris Cutrone, Platypus Affiliated Society
 


“I’ve got the poison — I’ve got the remedy!”

A “rational kernel” of racism?

A reply to disingenuous “critics”

Chris Cutrone

 

 
I must speak to my alleged “rational kernel of racism” comment, which has been deliberately distorted in its meaning 마틴 기어의 귀향 다운로드. I did not mean that somehow it is reasonable or otherwise acceptable to be racist.

By this statement I was applying Marx’s comment about the “rational kernel” of the Hegelian dialectic, which aimed to take it seriously and demystify it, not debunk or dismiss it 넷봇어택 다운로드. The same is true in addressing racism as ideology — as the “necessary form of appearance” of social reality. I was trying to address the issue of supposed “racism” in terms of the Marxist tradition of “ideology-critique,” or the immanently dialectical critique of ideological forms of appearance, or, explained more plainly, the critique from within of ideologies according to their own self-contradictions, in the interest of seeking how they might be changed 신암행어사 전권.

In this, I follow Wilhelm Reich, who wrote in The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933/46) that Marxists had failed to recognize the “progressive character of fascism” — by which he meant of course not that fascism was itself progressive (Reich was a Communist), but that fascism was a new ideology that met a new historical situation more successfully than Marxism did, and that Marxists were wrong to dismiss fascism as irrational, by which they tried to alibi their own failure to do better politically Download the nsp file. The point was why did members of the working class, to whatever degree, support an ideology that was against their interests? Reich thought that Marxists needed to be more like Marx in his critique of ideology Toshiba laptop.

So, what I meant by the “rational kernel of racism” was the need to address why otherwise rational people would have racist ideologies Arena of Nemesis. It won’t do, I think, to try to dismiss racism as irrational. Rather, the question is, why are people racist? What social realities do racist ideologies express xlc 다운로드? What social needs are expressed, in however distorted form, by racist ideologies? For it is not a matter that those with racist attitudes have them in their own self-interest Download mega7. Quite the contrary, it is against their better interests.

In other words, I think that racist ideologies need to be addressed not as straightforward expressions of interests, which concedes too much to the realities of competition of some workers against others, but rather as phenomena of self-contradiction, of living in a self-contradictory society, “capitalism,” which is something real that needs to be changed, not merely ethically deplored, and moreover changed from within: as Lenin put it, capitalism needs to be overcome “on the basis of capitalism itself;” as Marx thought, according to capitalism’s internal contradictions 파이썬 완벽 가이드 pdf. Racist ideologies need to be regarded as part of this.

However, it must be admitted that nowadays racist ideologies are not nearly as centrally important a part of the social reality of capitalism as they once were 하얀새. Racism is no longer considered anywhere near as reasonable as it once was. And this is a good thing — though it does present challenges to the “Left’s” own ideologies about the nature and character of social reality. Culturalism is not the same as racism, and what is often called “racism” today is actually culturalism, not biologically based: such cultural chauvinism would also be subject to a Marxist ideology-critique as a phenomenon of capitalism.

Beyond that, there is the issue of the actual politics of “anti-racism,” which my old mentor Adolph Reed has helpfully pointed out leads nowhere today, and so recommends junking present strategies of “anti-racist politics,” in favor of struggling against the concrete social and political disadvantages people face. There’s no point to a “politics” that tries to change people’s attitudes, where the real issue is material circumstances. But it does suit the “Left” today very well, in its own subcultural lifestyle consumerist taste community and paranoid authoritarian moral hectoring to focus on racist attitudes, as a substitute for real politics. | §

Published as part of a letter to the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) Weekly Worker, June 6, 2013.

CPGB contra Lukács

Bad Country

Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)
contra Georg Lukács

James Turley, Chris Cutrone, Lawrence Parker

Originally published in Weekly Worker January 24 – March 14, 2013 Free download to excel. [PDF]

articles:

James Turley, “The antinomies of Georg Lukács” 1/24/13

Chris Cutrone, “Regression” 1/31/13

James Turley, “Dummy” 2/21/13

Chris Cutrone, “Nota bene” 2/28/13

James Turley, “Bacon” 3/7/13

Lawrence Parker, “Lukács reloaded” 3/7/13

Chris Cutrone, “Unreloaded” 3/14/13

Planet virus

The relevance of Lenin today

Chris Cutrone

If the Bolshevik Revolution is — as some people have called it — the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx.
Encyclopedia Britannica

2011 — year of revolution?1

Time magazine nominated “the protester,” from the Arab Spring to the #Occupy movement, as “Person of the Year” for 2011.2 In addressing the culture of the #Occupy movement, Time listed some key books to be read, in a sidebar article, “How to stock a protest library.”3 Included were A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, The Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci, Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, and Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Žižek.

Cover of Time magazine vol. 175 no. 28 (December 26, 2011 – January 2, 2012), design by Shepard Fairey

Time’s lead article by Kurt Andersen compared the Arab Spring and #Occupy movement to the beginnings of the Great French Revolution in 1789, invoking the poem “The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement” by William Wordsworth. Under the title “The Beginning of History,” Andersen wrote that,

Aftermaths are never as splendid as uprisings. Solidarity has a short half-life. Democracy is messy and hard, and votes may not go your way. Freedom doesn’t appear all at once…. No one knows how the revolutions will play out: A bumpy road to stable democracy, as in America two centuries ago 거지키우기 다운로드? Radicals’ taking over, as in France just after the bliss and very heaven? Or quick counterrevolution, as in France 60 years later [in 1848]? (75)

The imagination of revolution in 2011 was, it appears, 1789 without consequences: According to Wordsworth, it was “bliss… in that dawn to be alive” and “to be young was very heaven.” In this respect, there was an attempt to exorcise the memory of revolution in the 20th century — specifically, the haunting memory of Lenin.

1789 and 1917

There were once two revolutions considered definitive of the modern period, the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Why did Diego Rivera paint Lenin in his mural “Man at the Crossroads” (1933) in Rockefeller Center, as depicted in the film Cradle Will Rock (1999), about the Popular Front against War and Fascism of the 1930s? “Why not Thomas Jefferson?,” asked John Cusack, playing Nelson Rockefeller, ingenuously. “Ridiculous!,” Ruben Blades, playing Rivera, responded with defiance, “Lenin stays!” [video clip]

Detail of Diego Rivera, “Man at the Crossroads” (1933), mural at Rockefeller Center, New York City, photographed by Lucienne Bloch before it was destroyed on Nelson Rockefeller’s orders in 1934.

Still, Jefferson, in his letter of January 3, 1793 to U.S. Ambassador to France William Short, wrote,

The tone of your letters had for some time given me pain, on account of the extreme warmth with which they censured the proceedings of the Jacobins of France…. In the struggle which was necessary, many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as any body, and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree. A few of their cordial friends met at their hands, the fate of enemies. But time and truth will rescue and embalm their memories, while their posterity will be enjoying that very liberty for which they would never have hesitated to offer up their lives. The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated Melon top100 download in week 1 of November 2019. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is.4

The image of 18th century Jacobins and 20th century Bolsheviks haunts any revolutionary politics, up to today. Lenin characterized himself as a “revolutionary social democrat,” a “Jacobin who wholly identifies himself with the organization of the proletariat… conscious of its class interests.”5 What did it mean to identify as a “Jacobin” in Lenin’s turn-of-the-20th century socialist workers’ movement? Was it to be merely the most intransigent, ruthless revolutionary, for whom “the ends justify the means,” like Robespierre?

But the question of “Jacobinism” in subsequent history, after the 18th century, involves the transformation of the tasks of the bourgeois revolution in the 19th century. To stand in the tradition of Jacobinism in the 19th century meant, for Lenin, to identify with the workers’ movement for socialism. Furthermore, for Lenin, it meant to be a Marxist.

1848?

There is another date besides 1789 and 1917 that needs to be considered: 1848. This was the time of the “Spring of the Nations” in Europe. But these revolutions failed. This was the moment of Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto, published in anticipation of the revolution, just days before its outbreak. So, the question is not so much, How was Lenin a “Jacobin”?, but, rather, How was Lenin a “Marxist”? This is because 1848, the defining moment of Marxism, tends to drop out of the historical imagination of revolution today,6 whereas for Marxism in Lenin’s time 1848 was the lodestar Download the image to the address.

Rosa Luxemburg, in her speech to the founding congress of the German Communist Party (Spartacus League), “On the Spartacus programme” (1918), offered a remarkable argument about the complex, recursive historical dialectic of progression and regression issuing from 1848. Here, Luxemburg stated that,

Great historical movements have been the determining causes of today’s deliberations. The time has arrived when the entire socialist programme of the proletariat has to be established upon a new foundation. We are faced with a position similar to that which was faced by Marx and Engels when they wrote the Communist Manifesto seventy years ago…. With a few trifling variations, [the formulations of the Manifesto]… are the tasks that confront us today. It is by such measures that we shall have to realize socialism. Between the day when the above programme [of the Manifesto] was formulated, and the present hour, there have intervened seventy years of capitalist development, and the historical evolutionary process has brought us back to the standpoint [of Marx and Engels in the Manifesto]…. The further evolution of capital has… resulted in this, that… it is our immediate objective to fulfill what Marx and Engels thought they would have to fulfill in the year 1848. But between that point of development, that beginning in the year 1848, and our own views and our immediate task, there lies the whole evolution, not only of capitalism, but in addition that of the socialist labor movement.7

This is because, as Luxemburg had put it in her 1900 pamphlet Reform or Revolution, the original contradiction of capital, the chaos of production versus its progressive socialization, had become compounded by a new “contradiction,” the growth in organization and consciousness of the workers’ movement itself, which in Luxemburg’s view did not ameliorate but exacerbated the social and political crisis and need for revolution in capital.

By contrast, however, see Luxemburg’s former mentor Karl Kautsky’s criticism of Lenin and Luxemburg, for their predilection for what Kautsky called “primitive Marxism.” Kautsky wrote that, “All theoreticians of communism delight in drawing on primitive Marxism, on the early works, which Marx and Engels wrote before they turned thirty, up until the revolution of 1848 and its aftermath of 1849 and 1850.”8

Marxism and “Leninism”

In 2011, it seems, Time magazine, among others, could only regard revolution in terms of 1789. This is quite unlike the period of most of the 20th century prior to 1989 — the centenary of the French Revolution also marked the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union — in which 1789 could be recalled only in terms of 1917. A historical link was drawn between Bolshevism and the Jacobins. In the collapse of 20th century Communism, not only the demon of 1917 but also 1789 seemed exorcized.

Did 1917 and 1789 share only disappointing results, the terror and totalitarianism, and an ultimately conservative, oppressive outcome, in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Empire and Stalin’s Soviet Union? 1917 seems to have complicated and deepened the problems of 1789, underscoring Hegel’s caveats about the terror of revolution. It would appear that Napoleon stands in the same relation to Robespierre as Stalin stands to Lenin. But the problems of 1917 need to be further specified, by reference to 1848 and, hence, to Marxism, as a post-1848 historical phenomenon.9 The question concerning Lenin is the question of Marxism.10

This is because there would be no discussing Marxism today without the role of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. The relevance of Marxism is inevitably tied to Lenin. Marxism continues to be relevant either because of or despite Lenin.11 But what is the significance of Lenin as a historical figure from the point of view of Marxism?

For Marx, history presented new tasks in 1848, different from those confronting earlier forms of revolutionary politics, such as Jacobinism. Marx thus distinguished “the revolution of the 19th century” from that of the 18th Cangoru.12 But where the 18th century seemed to have succeeded, the 19th century appeared to have failed: history repeated itself, according to Marx, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”13 Trying to escape this debacle, Marxism expressed and sought to specify the tasks of revolution in the 19th century. The question of Lenin’s relevance is how well (or poorly) Lenin, as a 20th century revolutionary, expressed the tasks inherited from 19th century Marxism. How was Lenin, as a Marxist, adequately (or inadequately) conscious of the tasks of history?

The recent (December 2011) passing of Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) provides an occasion for considering the fate of Marxism in the late 20th century.14 Hitchens’s formative experience as a Marxist was in a tendency of Trotskyism, the International Socialists, who, in the 1960s and early 1970s period of the New Left, characterized themselves, as Hitchens once put it, as “Luxemburgist.” This was intended to contrast with “Leninism,” which had been, during the Cold War, at least associated, if not simply equated, with Stalinism. The New Left, as anti-Stalinist, in large measure considered itself to be either anti-Leninist, or, more generously, post-Leninist, going beyond Lenin. The New Left sought to leave Lenin behind — at least at first. Within a few short years of the crisis of 1968, however, the International Socialists, along with many others on the Left, embraced “Leninism.”15 What did this mean?

The New Left and the 20th century

Prior to the crisis of the New Left in 1968, “Leninism” meant something very specific. Leninism was “anti-imperialist,” and hence anti-colonialist, or, even, supportive of Third World nationalism, in its outlook for revolutionary politics. The relevance of Leninism, especially for the metropolitan countries — as opposed to the peripheral, post-colonial regions of the world — seemed severely limited, at best 엔더스 게임.

In the mid-20th century, it appeared that Marxism was only relevant as “Leninism,” a revolutionary ideology of the “underdeveloped” world. In this respect, the metropolitan New Left of the core capitalist countries considered itself to be not merely post-Leninist but post-Marxist — or, more accurately, post-Marxist because it was post-Leninist.

After the crisis of 1968, however, the New Left transitioned from being largely anti-Leninist to becoming “Leninist.” This was when the significance of Maoism, through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, transformed from seeming to be relevant only to peasant guerilla-based revolutionism and “new democracy” in the post-colonial periphery, to becoming a modern form of Marxism with potential radical purchase in the core capitalist countries. The turn from the 1960s to the 1970s involved a neo-Marxism and neo-Leninism. The ostensibly Marxist organizations that exist today are mostly characterized by their formation and development during this renaissance of “Leninism” in the 1970s. Even the anti-Leninists of the period bear the marks of this phenomenon, for instance, anarchism.

The New Left leading up to 1968 was an important moment of not merely confrontation but also cross-fertilization between anarchism and Marxism. This was the content of supposed “post-Marxism”: see, for example, the ex-Marxist, anarchist Murray Bookchin, who protested against the potential return of Leninism in his famous 1969 pamphlet, Listen, Marxist! In this, there was recalled an earlier moment of anarchist and Marxist rapprochement — in the Russian Revolution, beginning as early as 1905, but developing more deeply in 1917 and the founding of the Communist International in its wake. There were splits and regroupments in this period not only among Social Democrats and Communists but also among Marxists and anarchists. It also meant the new adherence to Marxism by many who, prior to World War I and the Russian Revolution, considered themselves “post-Marxist,” such as Georg Lukács.

The reconsideration of and return to “Marxism/Leninism” in the latter phase of the New Left in the 1970s, circa and after the crisis of 1968, thus recapitulated an earlier moment of reconfiguration of the Left 철권 태그 토너먼트. The newfound “Leninism” meant the New Left “getting serious” about politics. The figure of Lenin is thus involved in not only the division between “reformist” Social Democrats and “revolutionary” Communists in the crisis of World War I and the Russian and other revolutions (such as in Germany, Hungary, and Italy) that followed, or the division between liberalism and socialism in the mid-20th century context of the Cold War, but also between anarchists and Marxists, both in the era of the Russian Revolution and, later, in the New Left. It is in this sense that Lenin is a world-historical figure in the history of the Left.16 “Leninism” meant a turn to “revolutionary” politics and the contest for power — or so, at least, it seemed.

But did Lenin and “Leninism” represent a progressive development for Marxism, either in 1917 or after 1968? For anarchists, social democrats and liberals, the answer is “No.” For them, Lenin represented a degeneration of Marxism into Jacobinism, terror, and totalitarian dictatorship, or, short of that, into an authoritarian political impulse, a lowering of horizons — Napoleon, after all, was a Jacobin! If anything, Lenin revealed the truth of Marxism as, at least potentially, an authoritarian and totalitarian ideology, as the anarchists and others had warned already in the 19th century.

For avowed “Leninists,” however, the answer to the question of Lenin as progress is “Yes”: Lenin went beyond Marx. Either in terms of anti-imperialist and/or anti-colonialist politics of the Left, or simply by virtue of successfully implementing Marxism as revolutionary politics “in practice,” Lenin is regarded as having successfully brought Marxism into the 20th century.

But perhaps what ought to be considered is what Lenin himself thought of his contribution, in terms of either the progression or regression of Marxism, and how to understand this in light of the prior history leading into the 20th century.

Lenin as a Marxist

Lenin’s 1917 pamphlet, The State and Revolution, did not aspire to originality, but was, rather, an attempted synthesis of Engels and Marx’s various writings that they themselves never made: specifically, of the Communist Manifesto, The Civil War in France (on the Paris Commune), and Critique of the Gotha Programme. Moreover, Lenin was writing against subsequent Marxists’ treatments of the issue of the state, especially Kautsky’s. Why did Lenin take the time during the crisis, not only of the collapse of the Tsarist Russian Empire but of the First World War, to write on this topic? The fact of the Russian Revolution is not the only explanation. World War I was a far more dramatic crisis than the Revolutions of 1848 had been, and a far greater crisis than the Franco-Prussian War that had ushered in the Paris Commune 민트북스. Socialism clearly seemed more necessary in Lenin’s time. But was it more possible? Prior to World War I, Kautsky would have regarded socialism as more possible, but after World War I, Kautsky regarded it as less so, and with less necessity of priority. Rather, “democracy” seemed to Kautsky more necessary than, and a precondition for the possibility of socialism.

For Lenin, the crisis of bourgeois society had matured. It had grown, but had it advanced? For Lenin, the preconditions of socialism had also been eroded and not merely further developed since Marx’s time. Indeed Kautsky, Lenin’s great Marxist adversary in 1917, regarded WWI as a setback and not as an opportunity to struggle for socialism. Lenin’s opponents considered him fanatical. The attempt to turn the World War into a civil war — socialist revolution — seemed dogmatic zealotry. For Kautsky, Lenin’s revolutionism seemed part of the barbarism of the War rather than an answer to it.

Marx made a wry remark, in his writing on the Paris Commune, that the only possibility of preserving the gains of bourgeois society was through the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx savaged the liberal politician who put down the Commune, Adolphe Thiers. However, in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx regarded his followers as having regressed behind and fallen below the threshold of the bourgeois liberals of the time. Marx castigated his ostensible followers for being less “practically internationalist” than the cosmopolitan, free-trade liberals were, and for being more positive about the state than the liberals.

Lenin marshaled Marx’s rancor, bringing it home in the present, against Kautsky. World War I may have made socialism apparently less possible, but it also made it more necessary 결혼해요 다운로드. This is the dialectical conception of “socialism or barbarism” that Lenin shared with Rosa Luxemburg, and what made them common opponents of Kautsky. Luxemburg and Lenin regarded themselves as “orthodox,” faithful to the revolutionary spirit of Marx and Engels, whereas Kautsky was a traitor — “renegade.” Kautsky opposed democracy to socialism but betrayed them both.

The relevance of Lenin today: political and social revolution

All of this seems very far removed from the concerns of the present. Today, we struggle not with the problem of achieving socialism, but rather have returned to the apparently more basic issue of democracy. This is seen in recent events, from the financial crisis to the question of “sovereign debt”; from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street; from the struggle for a unified European-wide policy, to the elections in Greece and Egypt that seem to have threatened so much and promised so little. The need to go beyond mere “protest” has asserted itself. Political revolution seems necessary — again.

Lenin was a figure of the struggle for socialism — a man of a very different era.17 But his self-conception as a “Jacobin” raises the issue of regarding Lenin as a radical democrat.18 Lenin’s identification for this was “revolutionary social democrat” — someone who would uphold the need for revolution to achieve democracy with adequate social content. In this respect, what Lenin aspired to might remain our goal as well. The question that remains for us is the relation between democracy and capitalism. Capitalism is a source of severe discontents — an undoubted problem of our world — but seems intractable. It is no longer the case, as it was in the Cold War period, that capitalism is accepted as a necessary evil, to preserve the autonomy of civil society against the potentially “totalitarian” state Vitubi Jump bread. Rather, in our time, we accept capitalism in the much more degraded sense of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous expression, “There is no alternative!” But the recent crisis of neoliberalism means that even this ideology, predominant for a generation, has seemingly worn thin. Social revolution seems necessary — again.

But there is an unmistakable shying away from such tasks on the Left today. Political party, never mind revolution, seems undesirable in the present. For political parties are defined by their ability and willingness to take power.19 Today, the people — the demos — seem resigned to their political powerlessness. Indeed, forming a political party aiming at radical democracy, let alone socialism — a “Jacobin” party — would itself be a revolutionary act. Perhaps this is precisely the reason why it is avoided. The image of Lenin haunting us reminds that we could do otherwise.

It is Lenin who offers the memory, however distant, of the relation between political and social revolution, the relation between the need for democracy — the “rule of the people” — and the task of socialism. This is the reason that Lenin is either forgotten entirely — in an unconscious psychological blind-spot20 — or is ritualistically invoked only to be demonized. Nevertheless, the questions raised by Lenin remain.

The irrelevance of Lenin is his relevance. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review 48 (July–August 2012). Re-published in Weekly Worker 922 (July 12, 2012) [PDF], Philosophers for Change, and The North Star.


  1. On December 17, 2011, I gave a presentation on “The relevance of Lenin today” at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, broadcasting it live on the Internet. This essay is an abbreviated, edited and somewhat further elaborated version, especially in light of subsequent events. Video and audio recordings of my original presentation can be found online at <http://chriscutrone.platypus1917.org/?p=1507>. []
  2. Kurt Andersen, “The Protester,” Time vol. 175 no. 28 (December 26, 2011 – January 2, 2012), available online at <http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132,00.html>. []
  3. Time vol. 175 no. 28 print edition p. 74. []
  4. Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence and other writings (Verso Revolutions Series), ed. Michael Hardt (London: Verso, 2007), 46–47. Also available online at <http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/592/>. []
  5. Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (1904). Available online at <http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1904/onestep/q.htm>. []
  6. See my “Egypt, or history’s invidious comparisons: 1979, 1789, and 1848,” Platypus Review 33 (March 2011), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2011/03/01/egypt-or-history%E2%80%99s-invidious-comparisons-1979-1789-and-1848/>; and “The Marxist hypothesis: A response to Alain Badiou’s ‘communist hypothesis’,” Platypus Review 29 (November 2010), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2010/11/06/the-marxist-hypothesis-a-response-to-alain-badous-communist-hypothesis/>. []
  7. Available online at <http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/12/30.htm>. []
  8. This is in Kautsky’s critique of Karl Korsch’s rumination on Luxemburg and Lenin in “Marxism and philosophy” (1923), “A destroyer of vulgar-Marxism” (1924), trans Download the visual studio 2013 community. Ben Lewis, Platypus Review 43 (February 2012), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2012/01/30/destroyer-of-vulgar-marxism/>. []
  9. See my “1873–1973: The century of Marxism: The death of Marxism and the emergence of neo-liberalism and neo-anarchism,” Platypus Review 47 (June 2012), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2012/06/07/1873-1973-the-century-of-marxism/>. []
  10. See Tamas Krausz, “Lenin’s legacy today,” Platypus Review 39 (September 2011), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2011/08/31/lenin%E2%80%99s-legacy-today/>. []
  11. See my “Lenin’s liberalism,” Platypus Review 36 (June 2011), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2011/06/01/lenin%E2%80%99s-liberalism/>; and “Lenin’s politics: A rejoinder to David Adam on Lenin’s liberalism,” Platypus Review 40 (October 2011), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2011/09/25/lenins-politics/>. []
  12. See Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), available online at <http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/>. []
  13. Ibid. []
  14. See Spencer Leonard, “Going it alone: Christopher Hitchens and the death of the Left,” Platypus Review 11 (March 2009), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2009/03/15/going-it-alone-christopher-hitchens-and-the-death-of-the-left/>. []
  15. See Tony Cliff, Lenin (4 vols., 1975, 1976, 1978 and 1979; vols. 1–2 available online at <http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/index.htm>); however, see also the critique of Cliff by the Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978), available online at <http://www.bolshevik.org/Pamphlets/LeninVanguard/LVP%200.htm>. []
  16. See my “The decline of the Left in the 20th century: Toward a theory of historical regression: 1917,” Platypus Review 17 (November 2009), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-1917/>. []
  17. See my “1873–1973: The century of Marxism,” Platypus Review 47 (June 2012), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2012/06/07/1873-1973-the-century-of-marxism/>. []
  18. See Ben Lewis and Tom Riley, “Lenin and the Marxist Left after #Occupy,” Platypus Review 47 (June 2012), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2012/06/07/lenin-and-the-marxist-left-after-occupy/>. []
  19. See J.P. Nettl, “The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a political model,” Past & Present 30 (April 1965), 65–95. []
  20. But Lenin is more than the symptom that, for instance, Slavoj Žižek takes him to be. See “The Occupy movement, a renascent Left, and Marxism today,” Platypus Review 42 (December 2011–January 2012), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2011/12/01/occupy-movement-interview-with-slavoj-zizek/>. []

Capital in history: Marxism and the modern philosophy of freedom — Communist University 2011 London (audio and video recording)

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone at the CPGB's Communist University 2011 in London

Platypus members Spencer Leonard and Chris Cutrone presented at the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) Communist University, Goldsmiths, University of London, August 13–20, 2011 Let's dye the mabinogi and.



“Capital in history” presentation and discussion complete audio recording dapdate.



“Capital in history” edited video from Communist Party of Great Britain on Vimeo File view pro.


Marx on “becoming” [PDF handout]


Recommended background reading:

• Cutrone, “Capital in history: the need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left” (2008)

• Cutrone, “The Marxist hypothesis: a response to Alain Badiou’s ‘communist hypothesis’” (2010)

Background reading from recent engagements between the CPGB and Platypus available at: http://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/cpgbcontraplatypus081111.pdf or http://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/macnairmike_platypuscritique_may-august2011_081111.pdf

A defence of Marxist Hegelianism — response to Mike Macnair

Chris Cutrone

I am writing in response to Mike Macnair’s 2003 critical review of John Rees and David Renton’s books (“‘Classical Marxism’ and grasping the dialectic,” Weekly Worker 495, September 11, 2003), cited in Macnair’s critique of Platypus (“No need for party?,” Weekly Worker 865, May 12, 2011; “Theoretical dead end,” Weekly Worker 866, May 19, 2011; “The study of history and the Left’s decline,” Weekly Worker 868, June 2, 2011; and “Divided by a common language?,” Weekly Worker 872, June 30, 2011). I wish to refer also to my three letters and article in response, “Platypus” (Weekly Worker 866, May 19, 2011), “Fish nor fowl” (Weekly Worker 867, May 26, 2011), “The philosophy of history” (Weekly Worker 869, June 9, 2011) and “Useful Platypus” (Weekly Worker 873, July 7, 2011).

I find Macnair’s analysis and critique of the political motivations and potential consequences of Rees’s affirmative account of Marxist Hegelianism compelling and good. I agree with Macnair’s conclusion that, despite Rees’s former SWP/UK leader Alex Callinicos’s anti-Hegelian Althusserianism, Rees considering “historical experience summed up in theory” was intrinsically connected to the SWP’s concept of the party as one which “centralises experience”, with all the problems such a conception entails.

I wish to offer a rejoinder to Macnair’s idea that such problematic conceptions of theory and political practice have roots in Lenin, Luxemburg and Lukács, Macnair’s analysis of whom I find to be false 스타크래프트 1.16 립버전. Also, I do not think that Macnair quite gets Hegel, although I agree with his characterisation (in “Against philosopher kings,” Weekly Worker 749, December 11, 2008) that “philosophy — as such — is inherently only a way of interpreting the world”, and so limits Hegel’s work for the political purposes under consideration. Furthermore, I agree with Macnair’s interpretation of Lenin with respect to the purposes of his polemical defence of Marxist approaches to philosophy in Materialism and empirio-criticism (1908). Moreover, I agree with his central point that philosophical agreement cannot be the basis of agreement on political action.

However, as Nicholas Brown responded to comrade Macnair’s question at the opening plenary on ‘The politics of critical theory’ of the Platypus convention in Chicago on April 29, it is not possible to ‘Hegelianise’ Marx, because Marx was more Hegelian than Hegel himself (Platypus Review 37, July 2011). That is, Marx tried to achieve the ‘Hegelian’ self-consciousness of his own historical moment. The question is, what relevance has Marx’s Hegelianism today, and what is the relevance of taking such a Hegelian approach to the history of Marxism subsequent to Marx?
Dialectical spiral

Lukács, Lenin, Luxemburg

I disagree that Lukács’s “subject” of history is the point of view or relative perspective of the proletariat as the revolutionary agent that must assert its “will”. Rather, I take Lukács to be following Lenin and Luxemburg (and Marx) quite differently than Macnair seems to think, in that the workers’ movement for socialism is the necessary mediation for grasping the problem of capital in its “totality”, that the workers must not remake the world in their image, but rather lead society more generally beyond capital 유비소프트 스토어. Hence, as Macnair characterises the approach of the Kautskyan “centre” of the Second International, the socialist workers’ movement must be a leading, practical force in democratic struggles beyond the workers’ own (sectional) interests in the transformation of society as a whole.

I disagree that Lenin made a virtue of necessity in the Russian Revolution after October 1917 and adopted a voluntarist (and substitutionalist) conception of the working class and the political party of communism. Rather, Lenin consistently criticised and politically fought against those tendencies of Bolshevism and in the early Third International. I do not think that Lenin’s newly found ‘Hegelianism’ after 1914 was the means by which he achieved (mistaken) rapprochement with the ‘left’.

The key is Luxemburg. I do not think she was a semi-syndicalist spontaneist/voluntarist, or that she neglected issues of political mediation: she was not an ‘ultra-left’. I take her pamphlet, The mass strike, the political party, and the trade unions (1906), to have an entirely different political purpose and conclusion. It was not an argument in favour of the mass strike as a tactic, let alone strategy, but rather an analysis of the significance of the mass strike in the 1905 Russian Revolution as a historical phenomenon, inextricably bound up in the development of capital at a global scale, and how this tasked and challenged the social democratic workers’ movement (the Second International and the SPD in particular) to reformulate its approach and transform itself under such changed historical conditions, specifically with regard to the relation of the party to the unions Download iTunes.

Luxemburg’s perspective was neither anarcho-syndicalist/spontaneist nor vanguardist, but rather dialectical. The mass strike was not a timeless principle. For Luxemburg, 1905 showed that the world had moved into an era of revolutionary struggle that demanded changes in the workers’ movement for socialism. A contradiction had developed between the social democratic party and (its own associated) labour unions, or ‘social democracy’ had become a self-contradictory phenomenon in need of transformation.

Furthermore, I take Lenin’s critiques of Kautsky for being “non-dialectical” to be very specific. This is not a critique of Kautsky ‘philosophically’ (although it does speak to his bad practices as a theorist), but politically. It is about Kautsky’s non-dialectical approach to politics: that is, the relation of theory and practice, or of social being and consciousness, in and through the concrete mediations of the historically constituted workers’ movement. Kautsky failed in this. Lenin agreed with Luxemburg in her Junius pamphlet (1915) that the problem was Kautsky thinking that the SPD’s Marxism (that is, what became Kautsky’s USPD) could “hide like a rabbit” during World War I and resume the struggle for socialism afterward 안전하지 않은 파일. Or, as Lenin put it in his Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism (1916) and Socialism and war (1915), contra Kautsky’s theory of ‘ultra-imperialism’, the world war must be seen as a necessary and not accidental outcome of the historical development of capitalism, and so a crisis that was an opportunity for revolutionary transformation, and not merely, as Kautsky thought, a derailment into barbarism to be resisted. This was the essential basis for agreement between Luxemburg and Lenin 1914–19.

I do not think the separation of the pre-World War I Lenin from Luxemburg is warranted, especially considering their close collaboration, both in the politics of the Russian movement and in the Second International more generally, throughout the period 1905–12 and again 1914–19. Throughout their careers, Lenin and Luxemburg (and Trotsky) were exemplars of the Second International left, or ‘radicals’ in the movement. They all more or less mistook Kautsky to be one of their own before August 1914. Also, Kautsky himself changed, at various points and times — which is not to say that Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky never changed.

But the question is the nature and character of such change, and how these figures allow us to grasp the history of Marxism. It is not about learning from their trials and errors, I think, but rather from the example of their ‘consciousness’, not merely theoretically, but practically. Moreover, the history of Marxism must be approached as part and parcel, and the highest expression, of the history of post-1848 capital.

Hegelianism

Lukács’s ‘Hegelian’ point was that “subjective” struggles for transformation take place in and through “necessary forms of appearance” that misrecognise their “objective” social realities, not in terms of imperfect approximations or more or less true generalised abstractions, but specifically as a function of the “alienated” and “reified” social and political dynamics of capital vsco 프리셋 다운로드. Capital is “objective” in a specific way, and so poses historically specific problems for subjectivity.

The reason for Marxists distinguishing their approach from Hegel is precisely historical: that a change in society took place between Hegel’s and Marx’s time that causes Hegelian categories, as those of an earlier, pre-Industrial Revolution era of bourgeois society, to become inverted in truth, or reversed in intention. Marx’s idea was that the “contradiction” of bourgeois society had changed. Thus the dialectical “law of motion” was specific to the problem of capital and not a transhistorical principle of (social) action and thought. Marx’s society was not Hegel’s. The meaning of Hegel had changed, just as the meaning of the categories of bourgeois society had changed. Labour-time as value had become not productive (if not unproblematically) — as in Hegel’s and Adam Smith’s time, the era of ‘manufacture’ — but destructive of society; as a form of social mediation, wage-labour had become self-contradictory and self-undermining in the Industrial Revolution, hence the ‘crisis of capital’.

One fundamental disagreement I have with Macnair’s approach, in which I think I follow Lenin, Luxemburg, Lukács and Marx, is with the idea that the potential transformation of capitalist society involves the confrontation of two antithetical social principles, of the workers (collectivism) vs the capitalists (individual private property). Capital, as Marx understood it, is not based on the mode of existence of the capitalists, falsely generalised to society as a whole, but rather that of the workers. This is not a top–down, but a bottom–up, view — shared by Smith, for example. As Lukács put it, the fate of the worker becomes that of “society as a whole” (“Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat” [1922] part 1, ‘The phenomenon of reification’ in History and class consciousness: studies in Marxist dialectics [Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971], 91) 카카오톡 이전 버전. The contradiction of capital is the contradiction of the workers’ — not the capitalists’ — existence in society. For Marx, capital is a social mode of production and not merely a relation of production. As a mode of production, capital has become increasingly self-contradictory. As a function of capital’s historical development, through the Industrial Revolution, in which the workers’ own increasing demands for bourgeois rights, to realise the value of their labour, and not merely capitalist competition, played a key, indispensable role, bourgeois society became self-contradictory and self-undermining. That is, the workers centrally or at base constituted the self-destructive, social-historical dynamic of capital through their labouring and political activity. This development culminated in the crisis of world war and revolution 1914–19.

As Lenin put it in The state and revolution, the social relations of bourgeois society — namely, the mutual exchange of labour as the form of social solidarity in capital — could only be transformed gradually and thus “wither away,” and not be abolished and replaced at a stroke (The state and revolution chapter 5, ‘The economic basis of the withering away of the state’, part 3, ‘The first phase of communist society’). The proletarian socialist revolution was supposed to open the door to this transformation. The potential for emancipated humanity expressed in communism that Marx recognised in the modern history of capital is not assimilable without remainder to pre- or non-Marxian socialism.

As Marx put it, “Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society” (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844) Bom Movie. This was because, according to Marx, “Communism is a dogmatic abstraction and . . . only a particular manifestation of the humanistic principle and is infected by its opposite, private property” (letter to Arnold Ruge, ‘Ruthless criticism’, September 1843). Marx was not the pre-eminent communist of his time, but rather its critic, seeking to push it further. Marxism was the attempted Hegelian self-consciousness of proletarian socialism as the subject-object of capital.

As Lukács’s contemporary, Karl Korsch, pointed out in ‘Marxism and philosophy’ (1923), by the late 19th century historians such as Dilthey had observed that “ideas contained in a philosophy can live on not only in philosophies, but equally well in positive sciences and social practice, and that this process precisely began on a large scale with Hegel’s philosophy” (Karl Korsch, “Marxism and Philosophy” [1923], in Marxism and Philosophy trans. Fred Halliday [New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970 and 2008], 39). For Korsch, this meant that ‘philosophical’ problems in the Hegelian sense were not matters of theory, but practice. From a Marxian perspective, however, it is precisely the problem of capitalist society that is posed at the level of practice.

Korsch went on to argue that “what appears as the purely ‘ideal’ development of philosophy in the 19th century can in fact only be fully and essentially grasped by relating it to the concrete historical development of bourgeois society as a whole” (40). Korsch’s great insight, shared by Lukács, took this perspective from Luxemburg and Lenin, who grasped how the history of the socialist workers’ movement and Marxism was a key part — indeed the crucial aspect — of this development, in the first two decades of the 20th century Download the Tea Story batch.

The problem we have faced since then is that the defeat of the workers’ movement for socialism has not meant the stabilisation, but rather the degeneration, disintegration and decomposition, of bourgeois society — without the concomitant increase, but rather the regression, of possibilities for moving beyond it. This shows that the crisis of Marxism was a crisis of bourgeois society, or the highest and most acute aspect of the crisis of capital: bourgeois society has suffered since then from the failure of Marxism.

Crisis of Marxism

The ‘crisis of Marxism’, in which Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky took part (especially in 1914–19, but also in the period leading up to this, most significantly from 1905 on), and Lukács tried to address ‘theoretically’ in History and class consciousness and related writings of the early 1920s, was (the highest practical expression of) the crisis of bourgeois society.

This crisis demanded a Marxist critique of Marxism, or a ‘dialectical’ approach to Marxism itself: that is, a recognition of Marxism, politically, as being a self-contradictory and so potentially self-undermining historical phenomenon (a phenomenon of history — hence the title of Lukács’s book, History and class consciousness), itself subject to necessary “reification” and “misrecognition” that could only be worked through “immanently”. This meant regaining the “Hegelian” dimension, or the “self-consciousness” of Marxism. This is because Marxism, as an expression of the workers’ “class-consciousness”, was — and remains — entirely “bourgeois”, if in extremis. While self-contradictory in its development, the socialist workers’ movement, including its Marxist self-consciousness, pointed beyond itself, ‘dialectically’ — as consciousness of the bourgeois epoch as a whole does Download kym file.

Georg Lukács, People's Commissar for Education and Culture in the Hungarian Soviet Republic, 1919

I follow Adorno’s characterisation of the problem of workers’ consciousness and the necessary role of intellectuals, which he took from Lenin, in his letter to Walter Benjamin of March 18, 1936: “The proletariat . . . is itself a product of bourgeois society. . . . [T]he actual consciousness of actual workers . . . [has] absolutely no advantage over the bourgeois except . . . interest in the revolution, but otherwise bear[s] all the marks of mutilation of the typical bourgeois character. This prescribes our function for us clearly enough — which I certainly do not mean in the sense of an activist conception of ‘intellectuals’. . . . It is not bourgeois idealism if, in full knowledge and without mental prohibitions, we maintain our solidarity with the proletariat instead of making of our own necessity a virtue of the proletariat, as we are always tempted to do — the proletariat which itself experiences the same necessity and needs us for knowledge as much as we need the proletariat to make the revolution” (Theodor W. Adorno, “Correspondence with Benjamin,” New Left Review I/81 [September–October 1973], 66–67).

The problem we face today, I think, is the opacity of the present, due to our lack of a comparably acute, self-contradictory and dialectical expression of the crisis of capital that Marxism’s historical self-consciousness, in theory and practice, once provided. | §

Oiriginally published in The Weekly Worker 878 (August 11, 2011) [PDF] 코분투.

Response to Andrew Coates on “negative dialectics”

The following was originally posted as a comment on Andrew Coates, “Platypus versus Weekly Worker: negative dialectics” (July 12, 2011).

We in Platypus consider our project to be Marxist in the sense that the necessary agent of social transformation remains the working class 육정전기. Looking back on history, it becomes clear to us that the highest moments of social potential have coincided, not unproblematically, however, with the high points of the workers’ movement for socialism.

The question is if and how the working class is presently constituted as a political force. We don’t think it is.

For it is not only the case, for us, that the “Left is dead!,” but also that the labor movement is dead 알 pdf 2.0.

This is perhaps the bitterest pill to swallow. But we think that the labor movement and the Left share fates: that one cannot advance without the other, and that they both go down together.

In this sense we would agree with Luxemburg and Marx concerning “social democracy.” But this then poses the further question of in what ways Marx, Luxemburg, et al 안드로이드 쿠키런. were (“immanent”) critics of the social-democratic workers’ movement, or, of proletarian socialism, and not merely its advocates.

Furthermore, the issue is not simply “democracy” but also “liberalism,” that is, what is the relation between individual and collective social freedom?

On “instrumentality,” there is a common misunderstanding of Frankfurt School Critical Theory on this score: “reason” becomes “instrumentalized” not in the way people exercise it, but rather as a function of the social-historical logic of capital Download Minecraft Cheats. Our reason is reduced to an instrument of the reproduction of capital.

So it becomes a matter, not of thinking our way out of capital, but of pushing further and more acutely the immanent logic of capital, and trying to raise it to consciousness (this is the notorious “Hegelianism”).

The question is whether that is happening today or not.

On “Bonapartism” the issue is not whether conjuncturally the capitalist bourgeoisie has lost control here or there, but rather how the logic of capital has escaped effective human control, especially in terms of politics, ever since 1848 Download the poker card image. The index of this train-wreck of capitalism is the “authoritarian” character of politics, in which no one really believes that the political measures taken will solve the social problems, but everyone submits to them, in “bad faith,” anyway. Bourgeois society in its continued decadence has sacrificed not merely the workers’ social empowerment and freedom, but that of all members of society apache spark.

Not only the working class, but importantly also the bourgeoisie, individually and collectively, submits itself to the strong and arbitrary state. For it’s quite unclear that the state today acts in the capitalists’ interests, other than by default. As Marx put it, the capitalists are less worried about losing their rights than they are afraid of the workers gaining theirs 위키피디아. The issue is the general trend of capitalism becoming more illiberal, ever since 1848, and what are the political and social-psychological phenomena of this taking place.

As Adorno put it, it becomes easier to believe the lie one knows is a lie than to struggle for more uncertain and dangerous emancipation. This is what it means to advance through history with one’s back turned, transfixed by the horror of the past 김동률 감사 mp3 다운로드. But, according to Benjamin, it is not we humans who do this, but rather the “angel of history,” who has ceased to be our guardian companion and instead has become our horrified reflection. History, in Hegel’s philosophical sense of the story of reason in freedom, has abandoned us.

“Those who labor must rule.” Platypus agrees with this Marxist truism 트로트 신곡. But we ask the question of why this is so. We do not assume it.

Why does the workers’ movement for socialism express emancipatory potential?

In avoiding this question, as the basis for critically thinking and practically working through (supposedly) “anticapitalist” politics, the present (dead/pseudo-) “Left” instead (at best) reifies the “proletariat.” Rather than seeking to push (the contradictions of) working class politics further, the “Left” cheerleads what the working class is already doing, ignoring how the struggle for socialism, as it was pursued in Marx and the best Marxists’ times, has long since ceased Peter Pan.

The critical conversation on the death of the Left that we in Platypus seek to host is not between ourselves and others, but among the broadest range of “Leftists” today who can contribute to expressing the buried but remaining historical tasks of human emancipation that were once more acutely (and not uncontradictorily) expressed by the historical Left and Marxism. This is not a directly political project, but an indirect one.

We seek to manifest the force of history in the present “dialectics at a standstill.” As Adorno put it, the “less popular” aspect of the Hegelian dialectic is its “static side.” But this expresses the condition that “The law that, according to the Hegelian dialectic, governs the restlessly destructive unfolding of the ever-new consists in the fact that at every moment the ever-new is also the old lying close at hand. The new does not add itself to the old, but is the old in distress” (Adorno, “Reflections on class theory,” in Can one live after Auschwitz? A philosophical reader, Stanford 2003, 95). | §